Into the Woods

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Into the Woods
Into the Woods poster.jpg
Poster for the original Broadway production
MusicStephen Sondheim
LyricsStephen Sondheim
BookJames Lapine
BasisThe Uses of Enchantment
by Bruno Bettelheim

Into the Woods is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales, exploring the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. The main characters are taken from "Little Red Riding Hood", "Jack and the Beanstalk", "Rapunzel", and "Cinderella", as well as several others. The musical is tied together by a story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family (the original beginning of The Grimm Brothers' "Rapunzel"), their interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them, and their interaction with other storybook characters during their journey.

The musical debuted in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre in 1986 and premiered on Broadway on November 5, 1987, where it won several Tony Awards, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason), in a year dominated by The Phantom of the Opera (1988). The musical has since been produced many times, with a 1988 US national tour, a 1990 West End production, a 1997 tenth anniversary concert, a 2002 Broadway revival, a 2010 London revival,[1] and in 2012 as part of New York City's outdoor Shakespeare in the Park series.

A Disney film adaptation directed by Rob Marshall and starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski and Johnny Depp was released in 2014. The film grossed over $213 million worldwide,[2] and received three Academy Award nominations and three Golden Globe Award nominations.


Act I[edit]

The Narrator introduces four characters who each have a wish: Cinderella wishes to attend the King's festival; Jack, a simple poor boy, wishes that his cow, Milky White, would give milk; a Baker and his Wife wish they could have a child; Little Red Ridinghood[3] wishes for bread from the Baker to take to her grandmother's house.

Jack's weary mother nags him into selling the cow, and Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters, Florinda and Lucinda, tease Cinderella about wanting to attend the King's festival.

The Baker's neighbor, an ugly old witch, reveals that the source of the couple's infertility is a curse she placed on the Baker's line after catching his father stealing her vegetables, including six magic beans. The Witch also took the Baker's father's newborn child Rapunzel. She explains the curse will be lifted if the Baker and his Wife can find the four ingredients that the Witch needs for a certain potion; "the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold," all before the chime of midnight in three days' time. All begin their journeys into the woods—Jack goes to market to sell his beloved Milky White, Cinderella's family rides to the Festival while Cinderella goes to her mother's grave to ask for guidance, Little Red goes to her grandmother's house, and the Baker, refusing his wife's help, goes to find the ingredients ("Prologue").

Cinderella visits her mother's grave and receives a beautiful gown and golden slippers from her mother's spirit ("Cinderella at the Grave"). Jack encounters a Mysterious Man who mocks him for trying to sell his cow for more than a "sack of beans" and then vanishes. Little Red Ridinghood meets a hungry Wolf who convinces her to take a detour on her way to Granny's ("Hello, Little Girl"). The Baker and his Wife squabble over her presence in the woods, but come across Jack with Milky White. Not having the money necessary to buy the cow, they convince Jack that the beans the Baker has found in his father's old hunting jacket are magic beans and buy the cow for five of them. Jack bids a tearful goodbye to his cow ("I Guess This Is Goodbye"), and the Baker orders his wife to return to the village with the cow. He has qualms about being so dishonest, but his wife reasons that the chance to have a child justifies their trickery ("Maybe They're Magic").

The Witch has raised Rapunzel as her own daughter, keeping her locked away from the world in a tall tower accessible only by climbing Rapunzel's long, golden hair ("Our Little World"). But this day a handsome prince spies the beautiful Rapunzel and resolves to climb the tower himself. In another part of the wood, the Baker has tracked down Little Red Ridinghood. Following the Witch's advice, he attempts to simply steal the red cape, but her ensuing temper tantrum guilts him into returning it. When Little Red Ridinghood arrives at her grandmother's house, she is swallowed by the Wolf. The Baker, in pursuit of the cape, slays the Wolf, pulling Little Red Ridinghood and her grandmother from the beast's innards. Little Red Ridinghood rewards him with the red cape, reflecting on her new experiences ("I Know Things Now"). Meanwhile, Jack's mother angrily tosses the beans aside, which grow into an enormous stalk overnight, and sends her son to bed without supper. As Cinderella flees the Festival, pursued by another handsome prince and his steward, the Wife helps her hide and quizzes Cinderella about the ball. Cinderella explains that it was a nice ball ("A Very Nice Prince") but seems nonplussed by the experience. As a giant beanstalk begins to sprout from the ground next to Jack's cottage, the Baker's Wife spots Cinderella's pure gold slippers. She tries to chase after Cinderella but inadvertently allows Milky White to run off, leaving the Baker's Wife without slippers or the cow. The characters each state morals and credos as the first midnight chimes ("First Midnight") and they continue their journeys through the woods.

The next morning, Jack describes his adventure climbing the beanstalk ("Giants in the Sky"). He gives the Baker five gold pieces he stole from the giants to buy back his cow. When the Baker hesitates, Jack climbs back up the beanstalk to find more. The Mysterious Man emerges and taunts the Baker, stealing the money. The Baker's Wife confesses she has lost the cow, and she and the Baker split up to look for it. Cinderella's Prince and Rapunzel's Prince, who are brothers, meet and compare the their newfound and unobtainable amours ("Agony"). The Baker's Wife, who is eavesdropping, takes note when Rapunzel's prince mentions that he is in love with a girl in a tower with hair "as yellow as corn." The Baker's Wife fools Rapunzel into letting down her hair by telling her that she is her prince and pulls out a piece of it. Meanwhile, The Mysterious Man returns Milky White to the Baker.

The Baker's Wife and Cinderella meet again, and the Baker's Wife makes a desperate grab for her shoes, almost succeeding before Cinderella flees. The Baker and his wife reunite, now with three of the four items. The Baker admits that they will have to work together to fulfill the quest ("It Takes Two"). Jack arrives with a hen that lays golden eggs and attempts to buy Milky White back, but the cow suddenly keels over dead as midnight chimes. Again, the characters recite morals ("Second Midnight"). The Witch discovers that the Prince has been visiting Rapunzel and, in fury and anguish, demands that Rapunzel stay with her so she can protect her from the outside world ("Stay with Me"). When Rapunzel refuses, the Witch cuts off Rapunzel's hair and banishes her to a desert. The Mysterious Man gives the Baker the money to buy another cow. Jack encounters Little Red Ridinghood, who is now sporting a wolf skin cape and a large knife for protection. She goads him into returning once again to the Giant's home to steal a magic harp.

Cinderella, returning from the last night of the festival, describes how the Prince spread pitch on the stairs to prevent her from escaping. Caught between wanting to escape and wanting to stay, she eventually resolves to let the Prince decide, leaving him one of her slippers as a clue to her identity ("On the Steps of the Palace"). The Baker's Wife frantically tries to convince her to give up her other shoe, offering her the sixth magic bean in exchange for it. Cinderella throws the bean aside, but trades shoes with the Baker's Wife and flees. The Baker arrives with another cow; they now have all four items. The Prince's Steward grabs the slipper from the Baker's Wife, and they are fighting over it when a great crash is heard and Jack's mother runs in to report that there is a dead Giant in her backyard. The Prince, more concerned with finding Cinderella, waves her off and departs with one of the slippers, giving the other to the Baker and his wife. Jack, to his mother's relief, returns with the magic harp. The Witch discovers that the new cow is unsatisfactory (as it's a regular cow which has been is covered with flour). However, the Witch is able to resurrect Milky White and instructs the Baker and his Wife to feed the other ingredients to her. Jack tries to milk her, but no milk comes. The Baker's Wife reveals where she got the yellow hair, and the Witch furiously explains that she cannot have touched any of the ingredients. The Mysterious Man tells the Baker to feed the hair-like corn silk to the cow. Now Milky White gives milk which is the potion. The Witch reveals that the Mysterious Man is the Baker's father. The Witch drinks the potion. At the chime of the third midnight the Mysterious Man falls dead, his reparation complete, the curse is broken, and the Witch regains the youth and beauty she had before the curse.

Cinderella's Prince searches for the girl whose foot fits the slipper; the stepsisters try but can only get it on by cutting off parts of their feet ("Careful My Toe"). Cinderella appears, her foot fits the slipper, and she becomes the Prince's bride. Rapunzel bears twins in the desert where her Prince finds her. The Witch attempts to curse the couple, but with the curse broken, her powers are gone. At Cinderella's wedding to the Prince, Florinda and Lucinda are blinded by birds as they try to win Cinderella's favor. The Baker's Wife, very pregnant, thanks Cinderella for the slipper. Everyone is at the wedding. Everyone but the Witch and the stepsisters congratulate themselves on being able to live happily "Ever After," though they fail to notice another beanstalk growing sky-high...

Act II[edit]

The Narrator introduces the action again: "Once Upon a Time...Later." All the characters seem happy but are still wishing: The Baker and his Wife have their precious baby boy, but wish for more room and bicker over the Baker's unwillingness to hold his child; Jack and his mother are rich and well-fed, but Jack misses his kingdom in the sky; Cinderella is living with her Prince Charming in the Palace, but is getting bored. ("So Happy").

Everyone is suddenly knocked over by a loud crash. The enormous foot of a Giant has destroyed the Witch's garden, sparing only a few beans. The Baker and his Wife decide that they must tell the Royal Family, and the Baker travels to the palace. His news is ignored by the Prince's Steward, and also by Jack's Mother when he stops at her house to ask for Jack's aid. When he returns home, Little Red Ridinghood arrives on her way to Granny's: her house has been destroyed and her mother is missing. The Baker and his Wife decide to escort her. Meanwhile, Jack decides that he must slay the Giant and Cinderella learns from her bird friends that her mother's grave was disturbed and decides to investigate, dressed in her old rags. Once again, everyone heads into the woods, but this time the mood is somber, for "the skies are strange, the winds are strong" ("Into the Woods" Reprise).

Rapunzel has also fled to the woods in a hysterical fit, driven mad by her treatment at the Witch's hands. Her Prince has followed her, but when he encounters his brother they each confess they have another reason for their presence in the woods. They have grown bored and frustrated with their marriages and now lust after two beautiful women asleep in the woods - Snow White and Sleeping Beauty ("Agony" Reprise).

The Baker, his Wife, and Little Red Ridinghood get lost in the woods and find Cinderella's family and the Steward, who reveal that the castle was set upon by the Giant. The Witch arrives as well, bringing news that the Giant has destroyed the village and the Baker's house. Suddenly, thunderous footsteps are heard and the Giant appears. To the shock of all, this Giant is a woman–widow of the Giant that Jack killed. Her booming voice proclaims that she wants Jack's blood in revenge. To satisfy the Giantess, the group realizes they must give her someone, but are unable to decide on whom until they realize that the Narrator is still commenting on the actions from the sidelines. Everyone offers her the narrator as a sacrifice, but he convinces them how lost they would be without him. Nevertheless, the Witch throws him into the Giantess's arms and he is killed by being dropped. Jack's mother finds the group and aggressively defends her son, angering the Giantess, and the Steward clubs Jack's mother to quiet her, inadvertently killing her. As the Giantess leaves to search for Jack, Rapunzel runs into her path and is trampled, to the horror of the Witch ("Witch's Lament").

The Royal Family continue on their way, fleeing despite the Baker's pleas for them to stay and fight the Giant. The Witch declares she will find Jack and sacrifice him to the Giant, and the Baker and his Wife decide they must find him first and split up to search. The Baker's Wife meets Cinderella's Prince, and he rapidly seduces her ("Any Moment"). Meanwhile, the Baker discovers Cinderella at her mother's ruined grave and convinces her to join their group for safety. The Prince, satisfied, leaves the Baker's Wife with a few platitudes, and she reflects on her adventure of the woods and her return to domestic life with family ("Moments in the Woods"). However, she has lost her way, stumbles into the path of the Giant, and is consequently killed by a falling tree.

The Baker, Little Red, and Cinderella await the return of the Baker's Wife when the Witch drags in Jack, whom she found weeping over the Baker's Wife's body. The grief-stricken Baker unwittingly agrees to give Jack to the Giantess, causing an argument. The characters first blame each other for their predicament, until finally they all decide to blame the Witch for growing the beans in the first place ("Your Fault"). Disgusted and fed up, the Witch curses and scolds them for their inability to accept responsibility, throwing away the rest of her magic beans. This brings her mother's curse on her again, and she vanishes. ("Last Midnight").

The Baker flees, but is visited by his father's spirit who convinces him to face his responsibilities ("No More"). The Baker returns and helps plan killing the Giantess, using Cinderella's bird friends to peck out the Giant's eyes at an area smeared with pitch, where Jack and the Baker can finally deliver a fatal blow. Cinderella stays behind to protect the Baker's child and when her Prince passes by, he nearly fails to recognize her. She confronts him, having learned of his infidelity from her birds and he explains his feelings of unfulfillment and his reasons for seducing another woman. She asks him to go, and he sorrowfully leaves.

Little Red returns with the news that her grandmother has been killed by the Giantess. Meanwhile, the Baker tells Jack that his mother is dead. Jack vows to kill the steward until the Baker convinces him that will not benefit anyone. Cinderella comforts Little Red and tries to address her qualms–does killing the Giant make them no better than she is? The Baker and Cinderella explain to Jack and Little Red that everyone is connected, and choices have consequences ("No One Is Alone").

The four remaining characters slay the Giant and the deceased characters now including the Royal Family (who have lost their way and starved to death in the woods) and the Princes (who have their new paramours, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, on their arms) return to share one last set of morals with the audience. The survivors resolve to band together and rebuild. The spirit of the Baker's Wife appears to comfort her mourning husband, advising him to tell their child their story. The Baker begins to tell the child the story of the play, while the Witch appears with the final moral: "Careful the things you say, Children Will Listen." All join in on a last reprise of the title song, surmising that we all must venture into the woods while remembering the choices we've made and learning from each endeavor we come across ("Finale"). As the characters conclude the song singing, "Into the woods, and out of the woods and happily ever after", Cinderella closes the show with one last "I wish..."


Pre-Broadway San Diego production[edit]

Into the Woods premiered at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, on December 4, 1986 and ran for 50 performances under the direction of James Lapine.[4] Many of the performers from that production appeared in the Broadway cast but John Cunningham, who played the Narrator, Wolf and Steward, and George Coe, as the Mysterious Man and Cinderella's Father, were replaced by Tom Aldredge among others. Kenneth Marshall as Cinderella's Prince was replaced by Robert Westenberg (who also played the Wolf), LuAnne Ponce, who played Little Red Ridinghood, was replaced by Danielle Ferland, Ellen Foley, the Witch, was replaced by Bernadette Peters. Kay McClelland, who played both Rapunzel and the Stepsister Florinda, stayed with the cast but only played Florinda, Rapunzel being played by Pamela Winslow.

The show underwent much evolution, but the most notable change was the addition of the song "No One Is Alone" in the middle of the run.

Original Broadway production[edit]

Into The Woods opened on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on November 5, 1987, and closed on September 3, 1989 after 765 performances. It starred Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, Kim Crosby, Ben Wright, Danielle Ferland, Chuck Wagner, Merle Louise, Tom Aldredge, and Robert Westenberg. The musical was directed by James Lapine, with musical staging by Lar Lubovitch, settings by Tony Straiges, lighting by Richard Nelson, costumes by Ann Hould-Ward (based on original concepts by Patricia Zipprodt and Ann Hould-Ward), and makeup by Jeff Raum. The original production won the 1988 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award and the Drama Desk Award for Best Musical, and the original cast recording won a Grammy Award. The show was nominated for ten Tony Awards, and won three: Best Score (Stephen Sondheim), Best Book (James Lapine) and Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason).

Peters left the show after almost five months due to a prior commitment to film the movie Slaves of New York.[5] The Witch was then played by: Betsy Joslyn (from March 30, 1988);[6] Phylicia Rashad (from April 14, 1988); Betsy Joslyn (from July 5, 1988); Nancy Dussault (from December 13, 1988);[7] and Ellen Foley (from August 1, 1989 until the closing).[8]

Other cast replacements included Dick Cavett as the Narrator (as of July 19, 1988) (for a temporary engagement after which Tom Aldredge returned), Edmund Lyndeck as the Mysterious Man, Patricia Ben Peterson as Cinderella, LuAnne Ponce returning to the role of Little Red Ridinghood, Jeff Blumenkrantz as Jack, Marin Mazzie as Rapunzel (as of March 7, 1989) and Kay McClelland, Lauren Mitchell, Cynthia Sikes and Mary Gordon Murray as the Baker's Wife.[8]

In 1989, from May 23 to May 25 the full original cast (with the exception of Cindy Robinson as Snow White instead of Jean Kelly) reunited for three performances to tape the musical in its entirety for the Season 10 premiere episode of PBS’s American Playhouse, which first aired on March 15, 1991. The show was filmed professionally with seven cameras on the set of the Martin Beck Theater in front of an audience with certain elements changed from its standard production only slightly for the recording in order to better fit the screen rather than the stage such as the lighting, minor costume differences, and others. There were also pick up shots not filmed in front of an audience for various purposes. This video has since been released on Tape and DVD and on occasion, remastered and re-released.[9]

Tenth Anniversary benefit performances were held on November 9, 1997 at The Broadway Theatre (New York), with most of the original cast.[10] Original cast understudies Chuck Wagner and Jeff Blumenkrantz played Cinderella's Prince/Wolf and The Steward in place of Robert Westenberg and Philip Hoffmann, while Jonathan Dokuchitz (who joined the Broadway production as an understudy in 1989) played Rapunzel's Prince in place of Wagner. This concert featured the duet "Our Little World," written for the first London production of the show.

On November 9, 2014, most of the original cast reunited for two reunion concerts and discussion in Costa Mesa, California. Mo Rocca hosted the reunion and interviewed Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine as well as each cast member. Appearing were Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, Danielle Ferland, Ben Wright and real life husband and wife, Robert Westenberg and Kim Crosby.[11] The same group presented this discussion/concert on June 21, 2015 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City.[12]

1988 US tour production[edit]

A United States tour began on November 22, 1988 with Cleo Laine playing the Witch, replaced by Betsy Joslyn in May 1989. Rex Robbins played the Narrator and Mysterious Man, Charlotte Rae played Jack's Mother, and the Princes were played by Chuck Wagner and Douglas Sills. The set was almost completely reconstructed, and there were certain changes to the script, changing certain story elements. The 10-month tour[13] played cities around the country, such as Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.[14][15] The tour ran at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from June 1989 to July 16, 1989, with the reviewer for The Washington Post writing: "his lovely score -- poised between melody and dissonance -- is the perfect measure of our tenuous condition. The songs invariably follow the characters' thinking patterns, as they weigh their options and digest their experience. Needless to say, that doesn't make for traditional show-stoppers. But it does make for vivacity of another kind. And Sondheim's lyrics...are brilliant.... I think you'll find these cast members alert and engaging."[16]

Original London production[edit]

The album cover of the London cast recording.

The original West End production opened on September 25, 1990 at the Phoenix Theatre and closed on February 23, 1991 after 197 performances. It was directed by Richard Jones, and produced by David Mirvish, with choreography by Anthony Van Laast, costumes by Sue Blane and orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. The cast featured Julia McKenzie as the Witch, Ian Bartholomew as the Baker, Imelda Staunton as the Baker's Wife and Clive Carter as the Wolf/Cinderella's Prince. The show received seven Olivier Award nominations in 1991, winning for Best Actress in a Musical (Staunton) and Best Director of a Musical (Jones).

The song "Our Little World" was added.[17] This song was a duet sung between the Witch and Rapunzel giving further insight into the care the Witch has for her self-proclaimed daughter and the desire Rapunzel has to see the world outside of her tower. The overall feel of the show was a lot darker than that of the original Broadway production. Critic Michael Billington wrote, "But the evening's triumph belongs also to director Richard Jones, set designer Richard Hudson and costume designer Sue Blane who evoke exactly the right mood of haunted theatricality. Old-fashioned footlights give the faces a sinister glow. The woods themselves are a semi-circular, black-and-silver screen punctuated with nine doors and a crazy clock: they achieve exactly the 'agreeable terror' of Gustave Dore's children's illustrations. And the effects are terrific: doors open to reveal the rotating magnified eyeball or the admonitory finger of the predatory giant."[18]

1998 London revival production[edit]

A new intimate production of the show opened (billed as the first London revival) at the Donmar Warehouse on 16 November 1998, closing on 13 February 1999. This revival was directed by John Crowley and designed by his brother, Bob Crowley. The cast included Clare Burt as the Witch, Nick Holder as the Baker, Sophie Thompson as the Baker's Wife, Jenna Russell as Cinderella, Sheridan Smith as Little Red Ridinghood and Frank Middlemass as the Narrator/Mysterious Man.[19] Russell later appeared as the Baker's Wife in the 2010 Regent's Park production. Thompson won the 1999 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance, while the production itself was nominated for Outstanding Musical Production.

2002 Broadway revival production[edit]

A poster for the 2002 Broadway revival.

A revival opened at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, running from February 1, 2002 to March 24, 2002. This production was directed and choreographed with the same principal cast that later ran on Broadway.[20]

The 2002 Broadway revival, directed by James Lapine and choreographed by John Carrafa, began previews on April 13, 2002 and opened April 30, 2002 at the Broadhurst Theatre, closing on December 29 after a run of 18 previews and 279 regular performances. It starred Vanessa L. Williams as the Witch, John McMartin as the Narrator, Stephen DeRosa as the Baker, Kerry O'Malley as the Baker's Wife, Gregg Edelman as Cinderella's Prince/Wolf, Christopher Sieber as Rapunzel's Prince/Wolf, Molly Ephraim as Little Red Ridinghood, Adam Wylie as Jack, and Laura Benanti as Cinderella. Judi Dench provided the pre-recorded voice of the Giant.

Lapine revised the script slightly for this production, with a cameo appearance of the Three Little Pigs restored from the earlier San Diego production.[21][22][23] Other changes, apart from numerous small dialogue changes, included the addition of the song "Our Little World," a duet for the Witch and Rapunzel written for the first London production, the addition of a second wolf in the song "Hello Little Girl" who competes for Little Red's attention with the first Wolf, the portrayal of Jack's cow by a live performer (Chad Kimball) in an intricate costume and new lyrics were written for "The Last Midnight," now sung by the Witch as a menacing lullaby to the Baker's baby.[23]

This production featured scenic design by Douglas W. Schmidt, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt, sound design by Dan Moses Schreier and projection design by Elaine J. McCarthy. The revival won the Tony Awards for the Best Revival of a Musical and Best Lighting Design.[24] This Broadway revival wardrobe is on display at the Costume World in South Florida.

London Royal Opera House, 2007[edit]

A revival at the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio in Covent Garden had a limited run from June 14 through June 30, 2007 followed by a short stint at The Lowry theatre, Salford Quays, Manchester between 4–7 July. The production mixed Opera singers, Musical Theatre actors as well as Film and television actors; including Anne Reid as Jack's Mother and Gary Waldhorn as the Narrator. The production itself, directed by Will Tuckett, was met with mixed reviews; although there were clear stand out performances.[25][26][27]

The production completely sold out three weeks before opening. As this was an 'opera' production, the show and its performers were overlooked for the 'musical' nominations in the 2008 Olivier Awards. This production featured Suzie Toase (Little Red), Peter Caulfield (Jack), Beverley Klein (Witch), Anna Francolini (Baker's Wife), Clive Rowe (Baker), Nicholas Garrett (Wolf), and Lara Pulver (Lucinda). This was the second Sondheim musical to be staged by the Opera House, following 2003's Sweeney Todd.

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre production, 2010[edit]

The Olivier Award winning Regent's Park Open Air Theatre production, directed by Timothy Sheader and choreographed by Liam Steel, ran for a six-week limited season from 6 August to 11 September 2010. The cast included Hannah Waddingham as the Witch, Mark Hadfield as the Baker, Jenna Russell as the Baker’s wife, Helen Dallimore as Cinderella, and Judi Dench as the recorded voice of the Giant. Gareth Valentine was the Musical Director.[28][29] The musical was performed outdoors in a wooded area. Whilst the book remained mostly unchanged, the subtext of the plot was dramatically altered by casting the role of the Narrator as a young school boy lost in the woods following a family argument – a device used to further illustrate the musical’s themes of parenting and adolescence.

The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Production, with Beverly Rudd as Little Red Ridinghood

The production opened to wide critical acclaim, much of the press commenting on the effectiveness of the open air setting. The Telegraph reviewer, for example, wrote: "It is an inspired idea to stage this show in the magical, sylvan surroundings of Regent's Park, and designer Soutra Gilmour has come up with a marvellously rickety, adventure playground of a set, all ladders, stairs and elevated walkways, with Rapunzel discovered high up in a tree."[30] The New York Times reviewer commented: "The natural environment makes for something genuinely haunting and mysterious as night falls on the audience..."[31] Stephen Sondheim attended twice, reportedly extremely pleased with the production. The production also won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival and Michael Xavier, who played Cinderella's Prince and the Wolf, was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.

The production was recorded in its entirety.

Central Park Delacorte Theater production, 2012[edit]

The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre production transferred to the Public Theater's 2012 summer series of free performances Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, New York, with an American cast as well as new designers.[32] Sheader again was the director and Steel served as co-director and choreographer. Performances were originally to run from July 24 (delayed from July 23 due to the weather) to August 25, 2012, but the show was extended till September 1, 2012.[33] The cast included Amy Adams as The Baker's Wife, Donna Murphy as The Witch, Denis O'Hare as The Baker, Chip Zien as the Mysterious Man/Cinderella's Father, Jack Broderick as the young Narrator, Gideon Glick as Jack, Cooper Grodin as Rapunzel’s Prince, Ivan Hernandez as Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf, Tina Johnson as Granny, Josh Lamon as the Steward, Jessie Mueller as Cinderella, Laura Shoop as Cinderella’s Mother, Tess Soltau as Rapunzel, and Glenn Close as the Voice of the Giant. The set was a "collaboration between original Open Air Theatre designer Soutra Gilmour and...John Lee Beatty, [and] rises over 50 feet in the air, with a series of tree-covered catwalks and pathways."[34] The production was dedicated to Nora Ephron, who died earlier in 2012. In February 2012 and in May 2012, reports of a possible Broadway transfer surfaced with the production's principal actors in negotiations to reprise their roles.[35][36][37] In January 2013, it was announced that the production will not transfer to Broadway due to scheduling conflicts.[38]

Other productions[edit]

A production played in Sydney from 19 March 1993 to 5 June 1993 at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. It starred Judi Connelli, Geraldine Turner, Tony Sheldon, Philip Quast, Pippa Grandison, and DJ Foster.[39] A Melbourne Theatre Company played from 17 January 1998 to 21 February 1998 at the Playhouse, Victorian Arts Centre. It starred Rhonda Burchmore, John McTernan, Gina Riley, Lisa McCune, Peter Carroll, Tamsin Carroll and Robert Grubb.[40][41]

The first professional Spanish language production, Dentro del Bosque, was produced by University of Puerto Rico Repertory Theatre and premiered in San Juan at Teatro de la Universidad (University Theatre) on March 14, 2013. The cast included Víctor Santiago as Baker, Ana Isabelle as Baker's Wife and Lourdes Robles as the Witch[42]

The Roundabout Theatre production, directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, began performances Off-Broadway on December 19, 2014 and officially opened on January 22, 2015, at the Laura Pels Theatre.[43][44] Like the original Broadway production 28 years prior, this production had a try-out run at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California from July 12, 2014 – August 17, 2014 with the opening night taking place on July 17.[45] This new version is completely minimalistically reimagined by the Fiasco Theater Company, featuring only ten actors playing multiple parts, and one piano accompanist.[46]

The DreamCatcher Theatre production opened in January 2015 and played a sold out run at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Florida. Tituss Burgess starred as The Witch, the first male actor to do so.[47] The cast also included Arielle Jacobs as The Bakers Wife. The musical had a production at The Muny in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri running from July 21 through 28 2015. The cast included Heather Headley (Witch), Erin Dilly (Baker's Wife), Rob McClure (Baker), Ken Page (Narrator), Elena Shaddow (Cinderella).[48] The Hart House Theatre production in Toronto, Ontario from January 15, 2016 to January 30, 2016.[49] A production ran at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds in a collaboration with Opera North from 2 June 2016 to 25 June 2016.[50]

2016 Tel Aviv production[edit]

The Israeli premiere, אל תוך היער (El Toch Ha-ya-ar), opened in Tel Aviv on August 2016 for a limited run produced by The Tramp Productions and Stuff Like That,[51] starring Roi Dolev as The Witch, the second male actor to do so.[52]

Casting history[edit]

The principal original casts of notable stage productions of Into the Woods.

Role Broadway First National Tour West End Broadway Revival West End Revival Dagoll Dagom Catalan Production Regent's Park Production[28] Central Park Production[34] Roundabout Theatre Production Australian Production[53] Fiasco National Tour*
1987 1988 1990 2002 2007 2007 2010 2012 2014 2014 2016
Witch Bernadette Peters Cleo Laine Julia McKenzie Vanessa Williams Beverly Klein Mone Hannah Waddingham Donna Murphy Jennifer Mudge Queenie van de Zandt Vanessa Reseland
Baker Chip Zien Ray Gill Ian Bartholomew Stephen DeRosa Clive Rowe Josep Mª Gimeno Mark Hadfield Denis O'Hare Ben Steinfeld David Harris Evan Harrington
Baker's Wife Joanna Gleason Mary Gordon Murray Imelda Staunton Kerry O'Malley Anna Francolini Annabel Totusaus Jenna Russell Amy Adams Jessie Austrian Christina O'Neil Eleasha Gamble
Narrator Tom Aldredge Rex Robbins Nicholas Parsons John McMartin Gary Waldhorn Jordi Estadella
Ferran Frauca
Eddie Manning
Ethan Beer
Joshua Swinney
Jack Broderick Ensemble John Diedrich Evan Rees
Mysterious Man Tom Aldredge Rex Robbins John Rogan John McMartin Martin Nelson Ferran Castells Billy Boyle Chip Zien Paul L. Coffey John Diedrich Fred Rose
Wolf Robert Westenberg Chuck Wagner Clive Carter Gregg Edelman
Christopher Sieber
Nicholas Garrett Carlos Gramaje Michael Xavier Ivan Hernandez Noah Brody Matthew McFarlane Anthony Chatmon
Cinderella's Prince Robert Westenberg Chuck Wagner Clive Carter Gregg Edelman Nicholas Garrett Carlos Gramaje Michael Xavier Ivan Hernandez Noah Brody Matthew McFarlane Anthony Chatmon
Cinderella Kim Crosby Kathleen Rowe McAllen Jacqui Dankworth Laura Benanti Gillian Kirkpatrick Gisela Helen Dallimore Jessie Mueller Claire Karpen Lucy Maunder Laurie Veldheer
Little Red Ridinghood Danielle Ferland Tracy Katz Tessa Burbridge Molly Ephraim Suzie Toase Anna Moliner Beverly Rudd Sarah Stiles Emily Young Josie Lane Lisa Helmi Johansan
Jack Ben Wright Robert Duncan McNeill Richard Dempsey Adam Wylie Peter Caulfield Marc Pujol Ben Stott Gideon Glick Patrick Mulryan Rowan Witt Phillipe Arroyo
Jack's Mother Barbara Bryne Charlotte Rae Patsy Rowlands Marylouise Burke Anne Reid Teresa Vallicrosa Marilyn Cutts Kristine Zbornik Liz Hayes Melissa Langton Bonne Kramer
Rapunzel Pamela Winslow Marguerite Lowell Mary Lincoln Melissa Dye Christina Haldane Maria del Mar Maestu Alice Fearn Tess Soltau Emily Young Olivia Cranwell Lisa Helmi Johansan
Rapunzel's Prince Chuck Wagner Douglas Sills Mark Tinkler Christopher Sieber Nic Greenshields Sergi Albert Simon Thomas Cooper Grodin Andy Grotelueschen Jeremy Kleeman Darick Pead
Grandmother Merle Louise Nora Mae Lyng Eunice Gayson Pamela Myers Linda Hibberd Clara del Ruste Valda Aviks Tina Johnson Claire Karpen Noni McCallum Laurie Veldheer
Cinderella's Mother Merle Louise Nora Mae Lyng Eunice Gayson[54] Laura Benanti[55] Gemma Wardle Maria del Mar Maestu Gemma Wardle Laura Shoop Ensemble Noni McCallum N/A
Giant Merle Louise Nora Mae Lyng Eunice Gayson Judi Dench
Linda Hibberd Unknown Judi Dench
Glenn Close
Ensemble Noni McCallum N/A
Steward Philip Hoffman Marcus Olson Peter Ledbury Trent Armand Kendall Byron Watson Ferran Castells Mark Goldthorp Josh Lamon Patrick Mulryan David Rogers-Smith Phillipe Arroyo
Florinda Kay McClelland Susan Gordon-Clark Elizabeth Brice Tracy Nicole Chapman Louise Bowden Anna Ventura Amy Ellen Richardson Bethany Moore Andy Grotelueschen Elise McCann Darick Pead
Lucinda Lauren Mitchell Danette Cuming Liza Sadovy Amanda Naughton Lara Pulver Laura Ventura Amy Griffiths Jennifer Rias Noah Brody Angela Scundi Anthony Chatmon
Cinderella’s Stepmother Joy Franz Jo Ann Cunningham Ann Howard Pamela Myers Elizabeth Brice Clara del Ruste Gaye Brown Ellen Harvey Liz Hayes Antoinette Halloran Bonne Kramer
Cinderella's Father Edmund Lyndeck Don Crosby John Rogan Dennis Kelly Martin Nelson Sergi Albert N/A Chip Zien David Rogers-Smith N/A N/A
Snow White Jean Kelly (Cindy Robinson in the video) N/A Megan Kelly N/A N/A Unknown Sophie Caton Victoria Cook N/A N/A N/A
Sleeping Beauty Maureen Davis N/A Kate Arneil N/A N/A Unknown Alice Fearn Tess Soltau N/A N/A N/A

*In the 2016 national tour, the show was minimalistic with only 11 cast members (Including one musician), therefore, some actors were cast in multiple roles.


Junior version[edit]

The musical has been adapted into a child-friendly version for use by schools and young companies, with the second act completely removed, as well as almost half the material from the first. The show is shortened from the original 2 and a half hours to fit in a 50-minute range, and the music transposed into keys that more easily fit young voices.[58]


A theatrical film adaptation of the musical was produced by Walt Disney Pictures, directed by Rob Marshall, and starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, Lilla Crawford, Daniel Huttlestone, MacKenzie Mauzy, Billy Magnussen, and Johnny Depp.[59][60] The film was released on December 25, 2014.[61] It was a critical and commercial hit, grossing over $213 million worldwide. For her performance as the Witch, Streep was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[62] The film also received Academy Award nominations for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design.

Musical numbers[edit]

Analysis of book and music[edit]

In most productions of Into the Woods, including the original Broadway production, several parts are doubled. Cinderella's Prince and the Wolf, who share the characteristic of being unable to control their appetites, are usually played by the same actor. Similarly, the Narrator and the Mysterious Man, who share the characteristic of commenting on the story while avoiding any personal involvement or responsibility. Granny and Cinderella's Mother, who are both matriarchal characters in the story, are also typically played by the same person, who also gives voice to the nurturing but later murderous Giant's Wife.

The show covers multiple themes: growing up, parents and children, accepting responsibility, morality, and finally, wish fulfillment and its consequences.[63] The Time Magazine reviewers wrote that the play's "basic insight... is at heart, most fairy tales are about the loving yet embattled relationship between parents and children. Almost everything that goes wrong—which is to say, almost everything that can—arises from a failure of parental or filial duty, despite the best intentions."[64] Stephen Holden wrote that the themes of the show include parent-child relationships and the individual's responsibility to the community. The witch isn't just a scowling old hag, but a key symbol of moral ambivalence. James Lapine said that the most unpleasant person (the Witch) would have the truest things to say and the "nicer" people would be less honest.[65] In the Witch's words: "I'm not good; I'm not nice; I'm just right."

Given the show's debut during the 1980s, the height of the US AIDS crisis, the work has been interpreted to be a parable about AIDS.[66][67] In this interpretation, the Giant's Wife serves as a metaphor for HIV/AIDS, killing good and bad characters indiscriminately and forcing the survivors to band together to stop the threat and move on from the devastation, reflecting the devastation to many communities during the AIDS crisis.[67][68][69][70] When asked about the thematic connection, Sondheim acknowledged that initial audiences interpreted it as an AIDS metaphor, but stated that the work was not intended to be specific.[67]

The score is also notable in Sondheim's output, because of its intricate reworking and development of small musical motifs. In particular, the opening words, "I wish", are set to the interval of a rising major second and this small unit is both repeated and developed throughout the show, just as Lapine's book explores the consequences of self-interest and "wishing." The dialogue in the show is characterized by the heavy use of syncopated speech. In many instances, the characters' lines are delivered with a fixed beat that follows natural speech rhythms, but is also purposely composed in eighth, sixteenth, and quarter note rhythms as part of a spoken song. Like many Sondheim/Lapine productions, the songs contain thought-process narrative, where characters converse or think aloud.

Sondheim drew on parts of his troubled childhood when writing the show. In 1987, he told Time Magazine that the "father uncomfortable with babies [was] his father, and [the] mother who regrets having had children [was] his mother."[71]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1988 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Original Score Stephen Sondheim Won
Best Book of a Musical James Lapine Won
Best Direction of a Musical Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Joanna Gleason Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Robert Westenberg Nominated
Best Choreography Lar Lubovitch Nominated
Best Scenic Design Tony Straiges Nominated
Best Costume Design Ann Hould-Ward Nominated
Best Lighting Design Richard Nelson Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Won
Outstanding Music Stephen Sondheim Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics Won
Outstanding Book of a Musical James Lapine Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Musical Bernadette Peters Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Robert Westenberg Won
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Joanna Gleason Won
Danielle Ferland Nominated
Outstanding Set Design Tony Straiges Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design Ann Hould-Ward Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design Richard Nelson Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Jonathan Tunick Nominated

Original London production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1991 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated
Best Director of a Musical Richard Jones Won
Best Actor in a Musical Ian Bartholomew Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Imelda Staunton Won
Julia McKenzie Nominated
Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical Clive Carter Nominated
Best Costume Design Sue Blane Nominated

1999 London revival[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1999 Laurence Olivier Award Outstanding Musical Production Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Sophie Thompson Won

2002 Broadway revival[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2002 Tony Award Best Revival of a Musical Won
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical John McMartin Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Vanessa L. Williams Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Gregg Edelman Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Laura Benanti Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical James Lapine Nominated
Best Choreography John Carrafa Nominated
Best Scenic Design Douglas W. Schmidt Nominated
Best Costume Design Susan Hilferty Nominated
Best Lighting Design Brian MacDevitt Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Musical Won
Outstanding Actress in a Musical Laura Benanti Nominated
Vanessa L. Williams Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Gregg Edelman Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Kerry O'Malley Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Musical James Lapine Nominated
Outstanding Set Design Douglas W. Schmidt Won
Outstanding Costume Design Susan Hilferty Nominated
Outstanding Sound Design Dan Moses Schreier Won

2010 London revival[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2011 Laurence Olivier Award Best Musical Revival Won
Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical Michael Xavier Nominated

2012 New York revival[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2013 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Donna Murphy Nominated

2014 Australian production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2015 Helpmann Award Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical Lucy Maunder Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Stuart Maunder Nominated

2015 Off-Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2015 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Musical Nominated
Drama League Award Outstanding Revival of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical Nominated


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External links[edit]