The chic new revival of the musical “Into The Woods” that opened Sunday night time on Broadway is radical.
As a result of there’s completely nothing radical about it.
New York audiences lately have develop into accustomed — too accustomed, I say! — to the works of the late composer Stephen Sondheim getting used as weighty canvases for the machinations of auteur administrators.
2 hours and 50 minutes, with one intermission. On the St. James Theater, 246 W forty fourth St.
Whether or not it’s John Doyle’s “Sweeney Todd” performed by actor-musicians on a naked stage in 2005 or final season’s glorious gender-swapped “Company” helmed by Marianne Elliott, Sondheim reveals have gotta get a gimmick. The newest Central Park revival of “Into The Woods” 10 years ago modified the previous man narrator character to a bit of boy misplaced on a tenting journey. Certain!
Not this newest “Into The Woods,” although. What we expertise is the 1986 musical, plain and easy. (Granted, nothing Sondheim ever wrote was plain or easy.)
The brand new revival began as a preferred, streamlined live performance at Metropolis Heart this spring and has been schlepped over the river and thru the woods and throughout seventh Ave. to the St. James Theatre just about as is, save for some new solid members.
The costumes by Andrea Hood are primary storybook garments; there’s an precise orchestra onstage; David Rockwell’s set is a number of birch tree trunks and a few black steps. You don’t depart considering, “What was the director doing with all these lasers?”
God, that’s good.
The razor sharp focus right here, as an alternative, is on a divinely solid, crystal clear staging of the fairytale musical that intertwines the tales of Little Crimson Driving Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel right into a lesson about how maturity has no blissful ending.
You received’t quickly overlook Sara Bareilles’ good rendition of “Moments within the Woods,” a notoriously difficult music during which the Baker’s Spouse tries to rationalize some taboo forest frolicking. The actress is so heat and considerate in the course of the quantity, but additionally flies by the seat of her pants. I’ve by no means seen such a relatable interpretation — she’s the Baker’s Spouse of Park Slope.
As her husband, a deep-feeling Brian D’Arcy James movingly wails “No Extra,” confronting the reminiscence of his misplaced father. And Phillipa Soo, as a conflicted Cinderella, melts the viewers with the ever-so-sad “No One Is Alone.”
There are two terrific Broadway debuts right here – Cole Thompson as Jack and Julia Lester enjoying that peppy spitfire Little Crimson. Thompson is nice and harmless because the beanstalk climber, and lifts our spirits with that goosebumps solo “Giants In The Sky.” And in Lester, we witness a serious new comedic expertise emerge. All her well-known jokes really feel recent, and she or he is unbelievably humorous. My face was loads pink from laughing so exhausting.
Gavin Creel will get giggles, too, because the Huge Dangerous Wolf and alongside Josh Henry because the dummy princes.
So, of all issues, does Milky White the cow. The manufacturing makes use of a particularly expressive puppet that turns our bovine buddy into an lovely Golden Retriever. The night time I attended, the function was performed by understudy Cameron Johnson, who acquired as a lot applause as any singing half did.
Patina Miller’s Witch works finest when the character is a chilly realist — not not like her “Cabaret” Emcee-like tackle the Main Participant in “Pippin.” She’s much less affecting when she painfully sings to her adopted daughter, Rapunzel, or croons that well-known lesson-song “Youngsters Will Pay attention.” However, the actress is a vocal powerhouse.
“Into The Woods,” surprisingly, is popping into Sondheim’s best-remembered present over higher ones like “Sweeney Todd,” “A Little Night time Music” and “Firm.” Act 2 has at all times been a heavy-handed thicket of fast tragedies that doesn’t fairly land, however no one cares anymore. Due to the taped 1987 manufacturing and frequent highschool stagings (there’s even a “junior” model for teenagers), the present has jammed itself into the minds and hearts of a era of theatergoers.
Some Australian buddies who didn’t know the fabric remarked that they felt like they had been at a panto, a boisterous call-and-response kind vacation present in Britain and Australia.
How fantastic it’s to see a Sondheim musical encourage that kind of power from a crowd many years later. Right here’s hoping that development sticks — ever after.
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