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Into the Woods
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Stephen Sondheim's Tony-winning score favors intricate ensemble numbers that present the characters' divergent, then overlapping fears and desires. And it's the latter category that provides a primary thread to James Lapine's ingenious puzzle of a book, which coheres around the inevitability--and treachery--of our innermost wishes. That theme is given farcical energy in the first act, which offers enough comic invention, tart dialogue, and witty music for a satisfying evening of theater as is.
Instead, Sondheim and Lapine offer a bold, darker second act that takes a look at what happens after "happily ever after," elevating the work beyond inspired parody toward allegorical gravity. By the final scenes, with the one-two punch of the score's two most enduring songs, "No One Is Alone" and "Children Will Listen," what began as a clever diversion has touched deeper nerves and primed some tear ducts. This video production by the original Broadway cast gets its marquee shimmer from Bernadette Peters's wonderful witch, but the standout (and Tony winner as Best Actress) is Joanna Gleason, who gives the Baker's Wife a mixture of warmth, pragmatism, and sudden, poignantly romantic radiance.
The DVD version is comparatively no-frills, given its American Playhouse origins, but multiformat digital audio renders the musical performances in immaculate detail. --Sam Sutherland
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this for a friend and she loved it! A great adaptation of an even greater musical, this gift will not let you down!Published 1 day ago by sara
The play, Into the Woods, is truly a musical masterpiece depicting such familiar fairy tale characters in a less than perfect light. Read morePublished 2 days ago by SM
Gave this as a gift and was told it was terrific. In fact they feel it is better than the movie.Published 7 days ago by Susan
One of the best musicals, and for all ages. My mid-school kids (I'm now retired) went around quoting some phrases. Read morePublished 9 days ago by FJS
This is the original Broadway show filmed from stage, and it's wonderful. Yes, I also liked the recent (2015) movie version, and there are individual performances that are as good... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Careful Shopper
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