on October 19, 2000
Into The Woods is at all times humorous, sad, disturbing, and thought-provoking. It is enjoyable by all ages. Children will find it to be a delightful twist on conventional fairy tales, and Adults will find it thought-provoking and moving, as well as a delightful romp through childhood stories. Despite what people may say, the second act does not drag; it is merely less fairy-tale-ish compared to the first act, as the characters keep getting killed off. It is a bit less subtle than some of Sondheim's other shows, which may irk some of the fans devoted to Sunday in the Park With George or Assasins (which I also recommend), but newcomers to Sondheim will find it to be a very easily enjoyed and accesible play. With melodic tunes and clever, moving, and thoughtful lyrics and book, and exceptional performances by Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, and Bernadette Peters (this is a must for any of her fans), Into the Woods is and will remain a Broadway classic.
on March 7, 2002
Except for this one...
Bernadette Peters is so perfect as the old crone witch who turns beautiful at the end of the first act. She plays the bitter self-loathing cynic to perfection: when she sings "Last Midnight" its amazing, and of course the bittersweet "Lament"/"Children Will Listen" ties everything together...well, perfectly. A riot, and she can really belt out a tune!
At least as amazing as Ms. Peters is Tony Award-winning Joanna Gleason who is completely brilliant as the baker's wife. Her interactions with Kim Crosby (Cinderella), each night after the Festival, sparkle: every time I watch the exchange that ends with, "I need your shoe to have a child!" I nearly fall off my chair; her appearance as a ghost at the end is touching and a little sad.
Kim Crosby herself is quite good as Cinderella, and Danielle Ferland is wonderful as the jaded and cynical (and a little bloodthirsty) Little Red Riding Hood (she gets it from grannie, who keeps thinking of twisted ways to torture the wolf after they escape), and her song "I Know Things Now," is a cute little song (with just a hint of sexual imagery) about a young woman coming of age.
Some things to watch for:
- Cinderella's birds
- the horse that moves backwards
- "Milky White," especially after the baker gets tired of leading(dragging) her, and picks her up by the handle on her top
- the stepmother cutting off her daughter's heel and then picking it up by stabbing it with the knife like a piece of ham
- "Agony" by the two princes
- "No One Is Alone"
- and lastly, "Your Fault."
It's also worth mentioning that the lighthearted fun in the first act is matched perfectly with the dark and sober mood in the second act, although it may be a little heavy for young children.
"I don't like that woman!" - The Baker, about the Witch
"I was raised to be charming, not sincere." - Cinderella's prince
"I was just trying to be a good mother." - The Witch to Rapunzel
"Slotted spoons don't hold much soup." - Jack's mother
"There are times I do actually enjoy cleaning." - Cinderella
"You can talk to birds...?" - Little Red Riding Hood to Cinderella
"...some of us don't like the way you've been telling it..." - The Witch to the narrator, just before she sacrifices him to the giant
I could keep going... suffice to say, it's a fave.
on November 10, 2014
Note: I bought a copy of the blu-ray version at the INTO THE WOODS: Reunion show on Nov 9, 2014. The one day performance was at Costa Mesa, CA (Orange County) and Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine and most of the original cast was performing. Bernadette Peters WAS AMAZING!!! The blu-ray disc was sold as a pre-release (prior to official Dec 2 release date) in conjunction with the reunion show.
Didn't know how to rate the blu-ray, but I guess the only conclusion I had was to average it to 3 stars!
- - 5 STARS for the musical itself. This is one of Sondheim's best in my opinion.
- - 1 STAR for the Blu-ray transfer itself. The color saturation is off, few stuttering scenes with artifacts and some of the scenes look really blurry, especially when they pan out to show the entire stage. (Closeups aren't that bad though). I shouldn't be surprised since this the original source wasn't shot in HD. I think the original was taped on video so a transfer may be more difficult. But there are a lot of other older TV shows out there shot on video and have better blu-ray transfers. And so, like many of us who have been wanting a blu-ray version of this show, I think many will be disappointed. The DVD version is actually more watchable because you don't have some of the transfer issues associated to the conversion, and thus less distracting. Plus...like the DVD, there are no extras. Overall, transferring this to blu-ray was pretty moot.
Still....the musical is great and the performances were wonderful. Too bad this was videotaped before they incorporated the song "Our Little World" into the production. I love that song between the witch and Rapunzel.
on June 14, 2000
The DVD of Sondheim's INTO THE WOODS is not that remarkable other than the fact that it's great to have this wonderful television production available in the format. The picture is crisp and the sound is pristine. There are no extras on the disc. I do enjoy the chapters, however. Unlike my video tape version, it's great to be able to skip to a particular song I wish to view.
INTO THE WOODS is such a great show. The first act is hilarious and witty. It very smartly weaves together all those fairy tales so familiar to us all. Then act two makes us look at them through adult eyes. I think Sondheim and Lapine are telling us that in fairy tales as well as "real" life, the simple words "I wish..." are truly the beginning of whatever story each of us is about to tell. They counsel us to be careful of what we wish in life -- our wishes effect everyone.
My favorite song in this production is "The Last Midnight" which is performed by Bernadette Peters as the Witch. It is very macabre and Sondheim reveals so much about the Witch's character through the lyrics. Plus, it gives Ms. Peters an opportunity to belt!
INTO THE WOODS is a hoot! Enjoy it.
This musical takes several fairy tales and combines them for a fresh, fun journey. A baker and his wife have learned that they are under a curse and can't have any children. To lift the curse, they must find the cape as red as blood, the cow as white as milk, the hair as yellow as gold, and the slipper as pure as glass. Fortunately for them, they are going into the same woods that Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Rapunzel are entering.
The second act picks up "Later." Things don't quite work out as well as everyone expected them to, and they once again find themselves entering the woods to deal with their new challenges.
The first act is a perfect musical comedy with some wonderful moments, but the second act is much darker in tone. While it still has it's funny moments, it is much more serious. But the dramatic turn works well, and what started out as a fun romp turns into a powerful story. Still, because of this, I have a hard time recommending it for children.
The cast does a wonderful job. It's really hard to pick out a highlight because everyone works well together to make it so good. The format, video recording of a live stage performance by the original Broadway cast, took me a little time to get used to when I first watched it, but soon I forgot all about that. The camera captures everything on stage; can't imagine a better seat in the house.
The DVD is just a bare bones version; there's nothing outside of the musical. But it's still worth getting since you will want to watch it many times.
Teens and adults will love this musical's sense of humor and be moved by its emotion. It provides all the joys of a stage play in the comfort of your own home. Buy it today and get ready to journey "Into the Woods."
on December 2, 2014
This is an excellent show. Bernadette Peters kills as the witch. The number of stars is solely for the terrible quality of the bluray. I've got the original DVD that I bought several years ago. And I was hoping that they would remaster the show for bluray release. Especially since they're getting ready to put out a feature film. I've looked at the DVD and the new bluray. And scarily enough I think the upconverted DVD might actually be a shade better on video quality than this bluray release. VERY disappointing. If you're looking to buy this for the first time don't waste the extra money for the bluray. Get the DVD. The quality will be just as good and it's cheaper. If you already have it on DVD don't waste your money to upgrade to blu. It's not worth it.
on November 13, 2014
Hate to say it, but the quality is subpar. I wondered if this had originally been shot on film so they could go back to do a 16x9 high def transfer. Nope. They clearly tried an up-rez of the original video master, but it looks like it didn't go through any kinds of color correction. I actually own the old DVD and I think I prefer how that looks. The Blu-ray seems darker. Even if you are not an expert on video quality, you'll still notice the presentation does not look HiDef at all. Sure, this Blu-ray sounds good... but I can't recommend it.
on March 11, 2001
This is truly an amazing play. It's rare that a single piece of work (be it a play, a movie, a book) can make you feel such a wide range of emotions. Into the Woods, if nothing else, does make you laugh. As, especially in the first half, there are many hilairous moments. Agony, a song that the two princes of the play sing about their loves, is a perfect mix between romantic conquest and egotistical self involvment. However, in the second act things get darker and you realize that going "into the woods" is a complex metaphor. The final song of the play, Children will Listen, is incredibly profound and could easily bring tears to your eyes, only seconds before the whole cast once again starts joyfully singing the exciting Into the Woods. The cast is excellent all around. The most notable would have to be Cinderella's prince, the baker's wife and (obviously) Bernadette Peters as the witch. Cinderella's prince is the pinnacle of every stereotype about princes and, at the same time, is unaware of his huge ego. He gets some of the best lines from James Lapine as well ("I was brought up to be charming, not sincere"). Joanna Gleason very much deserved her Tony as she gave the Baker's Wife cunningness, romance, and depth. However, it is Bernadette Peters who steals the show as the wicked witch. Every time she is on stage she simply embodies the character. Her entrance is as spectacular as it should be, as she sings the incredible "Witch's Rap" reeling off words faster than you can imagine while retaining a brilliant sense of character. On the other end of the spectrum, later on in "The Last Midnight" she not only demonstrates her amazing vocal abilities but gives a dramatic powerhouse of a performance that makes you discover who the witch really is. Of course, it is the great Sondheim who we should really thank for this. The line in the last midnight: "You're not good, you're not bad you're just nice, I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just RIGHT!" says so much when you think about it. This show is more accessable than most Sondheim productions and the majority of the first act is simply an entertaining and exciting story that perfectly intertwines all the fairy tales. But this is a Sondheim show. There is always something more serious behind the lines and certain points have some more racy meanings ("Hello Little Girl", a song that the wolf sings to little red riding hood, has an unmistakibly sexual undertone). Still, this is a delightful and thought provoking show that also manages to be incredibly entertaining. All of the leads deliver showcase performances and, well, this is just about as good as it gets. Anyone who thinks they hate Steven Sondheim: I defy you to get nothing out of the spectacular Into the Woods.
on December 30, 1999
This is a glorious musical. The first act takes traditional fairy tale characters on a happy quest journey, and a much more serious journey in the second. The Baker and his Wife need to get four things to lift the curse of sterility that the Witch, played fabulously by Bernadette Peters, has bestowed on them. She tells the story of the curse in a rap like song. In doing this they meet a spunky Little Red Riding Hood, who is being pursued by the Big Bad Wolf, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Rapunzel, and Cinderella. Humor and tears highlight this musical by Sondheim. The song, "Children Will Listen," spreads the message of the play, which is that everyone must be careful and learn and face up to life's tragedies. Here is a snippet of it:
Careful the wish you make, wishes are children. Careful the path they take, wishes come true. Not free. No one is alone.
Filled with humor and magic, INTO THE WOODS is told by The Narrator, who gets fed to the Giant's wife in the second act. The Witch's love for Rapunzel is illustrated in the song, STAY WITH ME:
Outside the world is warped and wild. Stay a child while you can be a child.
Lines like, "I need that shoe to have a child!" And Little Red Riding Hood's cynicism , "You talk to birds?" make this a priceless treasure.
on January 22, 2001
On the surface it sounds silly and simplistic: Cinderella and her Prince, Little Red Ridinghood, her Granny and The Wolf, Jack and his Beanstalk, Rupunzel, a Witch, a Baker and his Wife all come together in an enchanted wood to play out their famous stories...and then we get to see what happened AFTER the "happily ever after." But "Into the Woods" is anything but silly or simplistic. It is one of Sondheim's funniest and cleverest scores and this DVD version blessedly captures the sterling performances of the original Broadway cast headed by the incomparable Bernadette Peters, Chip Zien and Tony Award winner Joanna Gleason as the Baker's Wife. Sondheim and James Lapine dig deep and make us take a look at the consequences of getting what we wish for, since there truly is a price for everything, and the "ripple effect" of our desires touch the world in ways we may never imagine. It is also a musical about accepting loss and moving forward (a common theme in Sondheim scores, but one eloquently explored here in heartfelt numbers such as "Children Will Listen" and "No One Is Alone."). As an entertainment, you will get more than your money's worth, and along the way, you may learn a thing or two about yourself and your world. I have seen this show about a dozen times and learn something new each time. If you are a Sondheim novice, this would be a wonderful introductory show before jumping into the more complex pieces like "Sweeney Todd," "Assassins," or "Passion."