Customer Reviews: Into The Woods
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on February 1, 2002
INTO THE WOODS is one of Stephen Sondheim's most beloved shows, but even more credit should go to book writer / director James Lapine. College courses across the nation study this intricate, entertaining, and thought-provoking musical. The book is at turns humorous and challenging.

Lapine cleverly combines four of the Grimm brothers' most famous fairy tales, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Little Red Ridinghood, and couples them with his own fairy tale about a childless Baker and his Wife. On one level, the show is simple enough. Act I introduces the characters and charmingly chronicles their well-known adventures of fulfilling their wishes on the way to "happily ever after." In Act II, the community faces a frightening new problem, one in which neither the characters nor we know how the story will end.

But on another level, we slowly come to realize that these characters' celebrated virtues can also be considered major flaws. Jack is a thief. Cinderella runs away instead of telling the truth. Rapunzel cannot cope in civilization after years of virginal isolation. Beauty is not the same thing as power. Those who fall in love at first sight may have wandering eyes....

Lapine and Sondheim's message is best summed up in Cinderella's lullaby to Red Ridinghood, "No One Is Alone." Every action we take has a consequence to others. Right and wrong, black and white, good and evil, give way to half-truths, shades of gray, and ambiguity. Only in hindsight can we evaluate if the ends justify the means by which we pursue our dreams. We must remember that our values and our stories will have a lasting impact on our children.

Lapine has brought together a wonderfully talented cast, including Bernadette Peters, Chip Zien, Kim Crosby, Ben Wright, and Danielle Ferland. They have great comedic abilities to enhance the plethora of witty moments in the script, and most have good singing voices. The standout performance, however, is by Joanna Gleason as the Baker's Wife, humorous yet serious, conniving yet sincere, strong yet fragile.

Sondheim's score is filled with songs perfectly crafted to propel the storyline forward, most notably the lengthy opening sequence. Other great moments include "It Takes Two," the "Agony" reprise, "Moments in the Woods," "Last Midnight," and "No One Is Alone." However, more than most shows, these songs lose some of their punch outside the context of the plot. Therefore, I recommend purchasing the video. Once you've seen the show, you'll get more enjoyment out of listening to the CD, if you still wish to purchase it.
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on January 3, 2005
It's safe to say that INTO THE WOODS will go down as one of Broadway's classics. People have analyzed this show and applied it to so many areas of life, including the AIDS epidemic and 9/11. What this proves is the timeless quality of Sondheim and Lapine's musical that incorporates classic fairy tale characters into a story that teaches life lessons for all ages.

The voices on this recording are truly phenomenal. Bernadette Peters is often referred to as the last true Broadway actress as the Great White Way moves toward more Pop Musicals (WICKED, BROOKLYN, AVENUE Q, HAIRSPRAY), and it's true. She delivers a truly stunning performance.

Joanna Gleason deserved the Tony Award she received for her portrayal of The Baker's Wife. On the video recording of this production, she only confirms this.

Chip Zien is a perfect Baker, capturing the true meekness that the character calls for.

Having performed in two productions of this musical, I can say that I have the utmost respect for these actors and their talents. They are truly terrific.

I've listened to the 2002 recording and greatly prefer 1987. I'm sure I'm biased having grown up with the '87, but it is a great buy.

Also, the video recording for the musical is a great buy if you enjoy this CD. And a fun fact: This cast of INTO THE WOODS features cast members from Sondheim and Lapine's 1984 SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. Common cast members include: Bernadette Peters, Barbara Bryne (Jack's mother), Robert Westenberg (Cinderella's Prince)

This touching musical is extremely clever and meticulous in that Stephen Sondheim way. Definitely a great buy!
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on June 26, 2005
In the middle of the late 80s "British Invasion" ("Le Miz", "Phantom") came Stephen Sondheim's brilliant "Into The Woods", a look at fairy tales and what happens after "happily ever after". Although it lost to "Phantom" for Best Musical, it did pick up Best Score & Actress (Joanna Gleason).

Unlike some of Mr. Sonheim's other scores, "Into The Woods" contains many "accessable" songs which are thoroughly enjoyable outside the context of the show. The lyrics, as usual, are clever & the cast performances (namely, Bernadette Peters as the witch, Chip Zien as the baker, and the aforementioned Gleason as the baker's wife) are terrific.

Best Tracks include:


Ever After

Any Moment/Moments In The Woods

Your Fault/Last Midnight

No More [beautiful song!]

No One Is Alone

Finale: Children Will Listen

Another great score from Mr. Sondheim!
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HALL OF FAMEon March 30, 2007
Of all Stephen Sondheim's musicals, INTO THE WOODS is certainly his most popular and beloved work. During it's 1987 premiere, the show introduced a whole new generation to the magic of Broadway. The original cast is still definitive, and the cast album is one of the all-time classics.

The story weaves together the familiar childhood characters Cinderella, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Little Red Ridinghood, and Rapunzel; and explores their stories beyond the "Happily Ever After" ending. Whilst Act One is full of delights and pretty much tells the stories as we remember them, Act Two presents a darker and harrowing portrait as the characters, without the help of the Narrator, attempt to rid the kingdom of a Giant on the warpath...

The original cast is still definitive, headed by Joanna Gleason (in a Tony-winning performance) as the Baker's Wife. Her character holds the entire story together, and she reaches a heartbreaking climax with "Moments in the Woods", one of the most beautiful, tenderly-comical songs ever written for a musical. Bernadette Peters plays the Witch, who magically transforms from ugliness to beauty at the end of Act One. Peters brings a lot of gleeful comedy and schtick to the role, particularly in the "Witch's Rap", but also tugs at the heart during the "Lament"; and she gets to belt a frenzied 11 o'clock number, "Last Midnight".

The supporting cast is equally first-rate, with Kim Crosby's crystalline soprano perfectly suited to the high-flown and beautifully-drawn Cinderella; Ben Wright as Jack; and Danielle Ferland's feisty and funny Little Red Ridinghood. Chip Zien brings a lot of depth and feeling to the role of the Baker, and Robert Westenberg skillfully handles the dual roles of Cinderella's Prince and the Wolf.

This is probably Sondheim's most accessible score, but it's a deceptively-difficult one. The music is presented in a chamber-style, with emphasis on piano and strings. The entire score as a whole is fabulous, but highlights would have to include "On the Steps of the Palace", where Cinderella contemplates meeting her Prince again; "Giants in the Sky" where Jack reveals his adventures with the beanstalk; and "No More", where the Baker and his estranged father unite in their grief.

This reissue of the 1987 Original Broadway Cast has been crisply-remastered with three bonus demo songs, from a proposed children's version of the musical ("Back to the Palace", "Boom Crunch", and a re-written "Giants in the Sky").

INTO THE WOODS opened on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on November 5, 1987, and ran for 765 performances.

[Sony/BMG 82876-68636-2]
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on October 15, 1999
This in most definatly my favorite musical of all time. The story is relentlessly clever, as are the lyrics. The tunes do the lyrics justice and are both singable and memorable. The performances are flawless all around, and there is not a bad song on the disk. Best of all, the CD comes with a full liberatto so you can truely appreciate (and decipher) the lyrics. If you only buy one CD in your entire life, buy this one. (If you can buy more I have a whole list of recomondations). I may seem hyperbolic, but I am not exagerating at all. this is the best show from the best lyricist of all time, and a must-have for any fan of musical theater.
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on July 18, 2016
With book writer James Lapine and song writer Stephen Sondheim, an adult musical surrounding children's fairy tales takes its audience into an analogy filled look at the fear of the unknown and the desire to live happily ever after in Sondheim's most popular and easy accessible show. I've seen four stage productions of this magnificent show that makes you think every time you see it, and every song is accompanied by a moral lesson or warning that is life affirming yet darkly satirical about human relationships, much like his earlier works, "Company", "Follies" and "A Little Night Music". Bernadette Peters dared to take on a surprisingly supporting role, warning the rest of the characters about "The Last Midnight" and reminding parents that "Children Will Listen". The story surrounds the desire of a baker and his wife to have a child, and Chip Zien and Joanna Gleason were excellent. Also fitting in are Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, two princes, Little Red Riding Hood, a wolf and of course selfish stepmothers and stepsisters and a wise old man with a secret. I never get tired of this score, and like the earlier film version of "Sweeney Todd", Sondheim's brilliant words and music got an excellent transition to the screen that shows that audiences can accept intelligence as long as it is done in an entertaining manner.
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on October 12, 2001
When I was recently at a summer camp, my Musical Theatre class decided to sing part of the Prologue of this musical. As soon as I got home, I looked it up, and immediately purchased it. The music in this show is no less than amazing- Bernadette Peters soars as the Witch, and Chip Zien and Ben Wright make the Baker and Jack clearly believable. Two songs that I never tire of listening to: Agony (both parts) and Children Will Listen. Agony is the perfect duet for the two princes displaying their, well, agony at not being able to wed Cinderella and Rapunzel respectively, and then once they do, they wish for two *other* princesses, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Obviously, "the harder to wake the better to have" in their eyes. The second song, Children Will Listen, is a touching company number that is the perfect tie to the musical. Overall, I'd give this show more than five stars; alas, that is not an option. I *highly* reccommend this CD! It's worth every penny, and then some!
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on July 5, 2011
This musical is a family favorite. I wore my VHS out and had to get it on DVD. If you've not seen this yet, I highly recommend it. It is broken into 2 acts and in act one, it is a basic re-telling of several well loved fairy tales by the Brothers Grim - Not the Disney version, but the darker one with consequences. The fairy tales are woven together with the common thread of the woods that they each live in. The fairy tales are Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood & The Big Bad Wolf, as well as the Baker and His Wife, oh and there is the wonderful presence of the Wicked Witch. A Narrator helps explain the story along and the characters interact with each other in a wonderful way that helps all the stories progress. The songs (and dialogue) are wickedly funny and very entertaining. Act one ends at "Happely Ever After" as is the most common way fairy tales end and that's where act two begins. What happens AFTER "Happily Ever After"? Ever wonder? Well, I won't spoil the surprise, but you really MUST see this.
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on December 29, 2014
OK- I should first of all come out as Sondheim obsessive. Into the Woods was the first Sondheim I ever saw on stage. Admittedly it was put on by an amateur theatre company- and still I was rapt in it all. I love the themes and music in this production.

The movie is coming out soon, so I purchased this sound track [from the original Broadway cast] to not only listen to it, but learn the plot words before I see the movie. [which are easy to miss in a lot of Sondheim musicals, because they are often complicated and intricate-which of course is why I LOVE him].

A fine CD with good clarity - I'm ready for the film- which opens here in Australia in January. If you are into Sondheim too, get this for your collection- I hope you treasure it as much as I do.
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on April 14, 2013
Oh, to have the creativity of a Stephen Sondheim!

"Into the Woods" is marvelous, intriguing and unbelievably creative. Get the soundtrack, see the DVD performance by the original cast and be delighted. It might take a couple of viewings and/or listenings, but like an onion, you peel away the layers and find more and more with each subsequent exposure to this wonderful show.
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