Into the Woods has been slight reimagined and produced in New York this month. All of the hype around this production still has me crossing my fingers that a film version of the musical will finally be produced. Amy Adams, of Enchanted and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day fame, is the Baker's Wife in this production and her involvement has garnered some extra publicity, too. With the musical version of Les Miserables releasing later this year, there is a greater chance. Of course, this particular production is a short run as part of the Shakespeare in the Park series in New York's Central Park, but it is another proof of the play's enduring popularity. It'll be interesting to see if the production transfers to Broadway for a longer run.
From Fee-fi-fo-fum! We Smell a Hit—-a Dazzling Into The Woods by Jesse Oxfeld:
Into the Woods, which opened last week as the second half of the Public Theater’s 50th anniversary season at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, is Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s melancholy musical mashup of classic fairy tales, with a second act that reminds us there’s no such thing as happily ever after.
Indeed, as the first act ends, all the fairy-tale figures are happy. Cinderella is with her prince; Jack is with both his cow and the riches he found up the beanstalk; Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother are alive and the wolf is dead; and the baker and his wife, the fairy-tale-like characters Mr. Lapine created to bring his narrative together, finally have their longed-for child. (This first act, a witty, bouncing amalgamation of children’s classics, is performed as a complete play in high-school productions.)
But then the second act begins, and the giant arrives. It’s Mrs. Giant, technically—she has come down to the kingdom to find out who stole her gold and killed her husband. (No such thing as happily ever after, you see.) Mrs. Giant announces herself first with crashing footfalls and a swath of destruction, and then, in the directors Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel’s al fresco production, originally staged at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London, she finally materializes: puppeteers on a scaffolding, wrangling umbrellas, garbage-can lids, enormous hands and a metallic, lipsticked mouth, and suddenly transforming the thick canopy that forest designers John Lee Beatty and Soutra Gilmour have placed across the set into a living, breathing menace. (The puppetry is by Rachael Canning.) The show has by now fully pivoted into its downcast second act, but it’s the staging that won me over, the beautiful, clever and totally charming way in which the scenery had become a character.
And from A Witch, a Wish and Fairy Tale Agony by Ben Brantley:
For there was every reason to look forward to this revival. Mr. Sheader had staged a much acclaimed London production two years ago at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theater, where he is the artistic director. For the current Shakespeare in the Park incarnation by the Public Theater, he rounded up what sounded like a dream team of performers, including the Broadway powerhouse Donna Murphy and the movie star Amy Adams, in her New York stage debut.
Then there was the delicious prospect of seeing “Into the Woods” in, if not the woods, then at least as close an approximation of them as Manhattan offers. Central Park at night, when the moon rises and the wild things roam, sounded like the ideal and inevitable setting for stories of nature enchanted.
So, as always, some critics love the production and others don't. No surprise there. For those of us without easy access to New York or theatre tickets, there is always the DVD of the original Broadway cast.
Into the Woods Original Broadway Cast DVD