[THEATER REVIEW] The Secret in the Wings created unique and refreshing entertainment


Noah Raaum

Junior Max Moen grieves in front of a group of faceless singers during rehearsal.

The Secret in the Wings, a play full of twisted fairy tales, nightmares and death, was presented to hundreds of students in the Huss Center on Nov. 18 and 19. It wasn’t a traditional performance for St. Paul Academy’s theatre program: it boasted an elaborate set, incorporated song and dance, and was a concise one hour and 15 minutes, the length of a class period. For many, this was a refreshing change of pace, and drew a large audience.

The play, published in late 2014, is a composition of uncommon, dark tales that perplex their listeners. One tale particular was the story of the Three Blind Queens, a singing trio of queens that chose to consume their newborns after years of starvation. Another tale was the Princess Who Wouldn’t Laugh, in which hundreds of suitors were slaughtered after failing to make the pessimistic princess laugh. At these moments, the audience laughs, out of sheer discomfort, fear and joy.

What the audience might not know is that a great deal of creativity went into the making of this play. This wasn’t an age-old Shakespearean classic—for this reason, the cast was able to adapt and improve upon the original script without ruining its integrity. For example, nearly all of the visual components, symbolism and blocking were conceptualized by students early on in the process, with fewer components taken from the text. Likewise, all of the characters’ names were their real names, not fictional names, which further engages the audience.

The recurring music is eerie and catchy, and balances out the play’s content. Groups of vocalists sang songs such as ►Miserere and ►Where Are You Going My Love, complete with blocking and props.

“Suspension of reality” made the show come alive; the viewer is given a small number of significant details and dialogue, and the rest is up to the imagination. All of these tales were fused together with a central story surrounding a boy and his mother, which created seamless transitions from scene to scene and added depth to the performance.