BREAKING NEWS: CHILDREN WILL LISTEN to some timeless fairy tales like you've never experienced it before. It has just been announced that New York City Center's acclaimed ENCORES series is planning to develop a semi-staged concert production of Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine's musical classic Into The Woods. Current Artistic Director Lear deBessonet along with Musical Director Rob Berman are figuring out plans for what the production will be like as it gets documented for an upcoming episode of ENCORES new digital series ENCORES! INSIDE THE REVIVAL.
No word and announcements have been said for when this production of INTO THE WOODS will officially debut. City Center and all of Live Theater continues to be shutdown due to this ongoing time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For anyone who may not be familiar with the New York City Center ENCORES series, it was created in 1994. It's a series of staged concert presentations of popular but rarely ever produced Broadway Musicals. We are talking about classic shows that has NOT been seen on the New York stage within over 20+ years. They are usually rehearsed for about a week and a half in a private rehearsal studio before heading into City Center's main stage to tech and then run for only 5 SHOWS. All productions feature a full 35 piece orchestra (a.k.a THE ENCORES ORCHESTRA) on stage accompanying a full all-star Broadway cast and Ensemble (carrying scripts along with some stage blocking and choreography). Some of its notable productions have later went on to become full-scale Broadway revivals including the long running revival of Chicago, Wonderful Town, The Apple Tree, Gypsy, Violet, and Cotton Club Parade (which later became After Midnight).
In case anyone may not be familiar with the story of INTO THE WOODS, this legendary and beloved musical combines some of the world's greatest fairy tales by The Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales, exploring the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. It features "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 an evil "witch" who has placed a curse on them, and their interaction with other storybook characters during their journey. Notable songs include the title song, GIANTS IN THE SKY, I KNOW THINGS NOW, AGONY, ON THE STEPS OF THE PALACE, YOUR FAULT, ANY MOMENT, NO ONE IS ALONE, and the beautiful CHILDREN WILL LISTEN.
INTO THE WOODS had its Pre-Broadway world premiere run at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California in 1986. During the time, several songs were changed (including the adding of another of one of the musical’s signature songs NO ONE IS ALONE) and numerous of the main roles were re-cast including the role of “The Witch”.
Once the company got the green light, the show officially arrived on Broadway a year later in 1987 at the Martin Beck Theatre (now the Al Hirschfeld Theatre) running for a complete total of 808 performances. Under the direction of James Lapine, the cast starred….
Tony nominee and Emmy winner Tom Aldredge (later Dick Cavett) as “The Narrator”,
Chip Zien as “The Baker”,
Tony winner Joanna Gleason (later Kay McClelland, Lauren Mitchell, and Mary Gordan Murray) as “The Baker’s Wife”,
Kim Crosby (later Patricia Ben Peterson) as “Cinderella”,
Pamela Winslow (later Marin Mazzie) as “Rapunzel”,
Ben Wright (later Jeff Blumenkrantz) as “Jack”,
Danielle Ferland (later LuAnne Ponce) as “Little Red Riding Hood”,
The musical was a huge smash hit earning 10 Tony nominees in 1988. It took home 3 for BEST SCORE (for Stephen Sondheim), BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL (for James Lapine), and BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL (for Joanna Gleason).
INTO THE WOODS went on to become a worldwide smash hit musical playing all over including several National Tours and London’s West End. It would later be revived numerous times in New York City.
The first ON Broadway revival of the show arrived in 2002. It played the Broadhurst Theatre for a complete total of 297 performances. With a brand new creative team and directed once again by its book writer Jame Lapine, this cast starred…
Tony, Grammy, and Emmy nominee Vanessa Williams as “The Witch”,
The late Tony nominated John McMartin as "The Narrator”,
Stephen DeRosa as “The Baker”,
Kerry O’Malley as “The Baker’s Wife”,
Tony winner Laura Benanti (later Tony nominee Erin Dilly) as “Cinderella”,
Melissa Dye as “Rapunzel”,
Adam Wylie as “Jack”,
Molly Ephraim as “Little Red Riding Hood”.
The revival was nominated for 10 Tony Award nominations that year winning 2 including BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL.
Along with its triumph ON Broadway, INTO THE WOODS also had a success OFF Broadway. The first Off Broadway production and 2nd New York City revival of the show happened in 2012 at Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre (part of The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park series). This production was performed outdoors and was a transfer for an acclaimed 2010 production at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in London. It only ran for a strictly limited 15 performances. Under the direction of Timothy Sheader, the cast featured…
Tony winner Donna Murphy as “The Witch”,
Jack Broderick as “The Narrator” (for this production it was played by a kid),
Tony winner Denis O'Hare as “The Baker",
Oscar nominee Amy Adams as “The Baker’s Wife”,
Tony winner Jessie Mueller as “Cinderella”,
Kristine Zbornik as “Rapunzel”,
Tony nominee this year Gideon Glick as “Jack”,
Tony nominee Sarah Stiles as “Little Red Riding Hood”.
The 2nd OFF BROADWAY production and 4th New York City revival of INTO THE WOODS happened in 2015. Performed at Roundabout Theatre Company’s Laura Pels Theatre for 168 performances, this version came to New York directly from sold out runs in San Diego (at the Old Globe where the original production premiered) and then performed in New Jersey’s McCarter Theatre Center. It was concieved by the Fiasco Theatre Company with an all new reimagined version. It featured only 10 actors playing multiple roles and one piano accompanist. The cast featured….
Jennifer Mudge as “The Witch”,
The entire Ensemble serving as “The Narrators”,
Ben Steinfeld as “The Baker”,
Jessie Austrian as “The Baker’s Wife”,
Claire Carpen as “Cinderella & others”,
Patrick Mulryan as “Jack” and “Others”
Emily Young playing both “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Rapunzel”,
Last year, the show was also performed as a concert staged production at the legendary Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California. Under the direction of Robert Longbottom, this all-star was led by….
Tony winner Patina Miller as “The Witch”,
Edward Hibbert as “The Narrator”,
Skylar Astin as “The Baker",
Tony winner Sutton Foster as “The Baker’s Wife”,
Olivier Award nominee and Broadway favorite Sierra Boggess as “Cinderella”,
Tony nominee Hailey Kilgore as “Rapunzel”,
Gaten Matarazzo as “Jack”,
Shanice Williams as “Little Red Riding Hood”.
In addition to its success on stage, INTO THE WOODS was captured on film 3 times. The first filmed version came in 1988 during the beginning of its run. Yup, a filmed performance of the original New York production that aired on PBS’ American Playhouse series. Starring the entire original cast, it is still available today to own on DVD and Blu-Ray.
The 2nd filmed version came in 2010. It was a filmed performance of the 2010 Regent Theatre’s Open-Air Theatre production (which came to Central Park in 2012). It was available to own to watch on Digital Theatre. This cast featured….
Hannah Waddingham as “The Witch”,
Mark Hadfied as “The Baker”,
Jenna Russell as “The Baker’s Witch”,
Helen Dallimore as “Cinderella”,
Alice Fearn as “Rapunzel”,
Ben Stott as “Jack”,
Beverly Rudd as “Little Red Riding Hood”,
The most recent filmed version of INTO THE WOODS came in 2014. Disney released a full length feature film adaptation that was well received by critics and grossed $213 million at the Box Office. Under the direction of Tony nominee and Oscar winner Rob Marshall, this film version featured an all star cast including…
Oscar winner Meryl Streep as “The Witch”
Tony winner James Corden as “The Baker” and “Narrator”,
Emily Blunt as “The Baker’s Wife”,
Tony and Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick as “Cinderella”,
Mackenzie Mauzy as “Rapunzel”,
Daniel Huttlestone as “Jack”,
Lilla Crawford as “Little Red Riding Hood”,
The 2014 film version of INTO THE WOODS was nominated for both 3 Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards in 2015 including Best Supporting Actress (for Meryl Streep) but lost all the categories.
Who is excited to discover a HAPPILY EVER AFTER like never before when Live Theater returns with ENCORES presenting a timeless musical classic?!!!
New York City Center today announced an additional musical in development as part of the longstanding Encores! series. Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods will be the first production of this third tenet and usher in a new tradition at City Center celebrating iconic American musicals.
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