"Once upon a time..."
Three classically-bound storybooks will be illuminated on the Broadhurst Theatre's stage and the interlinked tales of "a fair maiden, a sad young lad and a childless baker with his wife" will begin, kicking off the April 30 opening night performance of Broadway's first revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods.
Into the Woods experienced a last minute glitch in its final week or previews. At 11:29 AM on April 25, a boiler exploded in the 19th Street building, collapsing one floor in the eight story building. The number of injured ranges in reports from 20 to 50 people — 23 were evacuated in the first 90 minutes after the explosion. No employees of Into the Woods were injured in the blast, but several costumes, in the shop for repairs and touch-ups, missed that evening's performance.
According to a press spokesperson, the costumes were back in the show by Friday night, April 26. Included in the missing pieces was a cow head worn by the actor Chad Kimball, who, in one of the major changes in the revival, portrays Milky White using puppeteering techniques reminiscent of the hyenas in The Lion King. The starry cast of Into the Woods features recording star and actress Vanessa Williams (Kiss of the Spider Woman) as the Witch, John McMartin (The Visit in Chicago) playing the Narrator and Mysterious Man, Laura Benanti (Swing) playing Cinderella, Gregg Edelman (late of Reefer Madness) as her Prince, Dennis Kelly as her father, Christopher Sieber (Triumph of Love) as Rapunzel's Prince, Melissa Dye as Rapunzel, Kerry O'Malley as the Baker's Wife, Stephen DeRosa (The Mystery of Irma Vep) as the Baker, Adam Wylie as Jack, Mary Louise Burke (Fuddy Meers) as Jack's Mother, Molly V. Ephraim as Little Red Riding Hood, Kimball as Milky White, Trent Armand Kendall as the Steward, Pamela Myers as Cinderella's Stepmother, Tracy Nicole Chapman as Florinda, Amanda Naughton as Lucinda and Jennifer Malenke as the Horse. Completing the ensemble are Stephen Berger, Linda Muggleston, Kate Reinders and Adam Brazier.
The production is directed by the musical's original director and bookwriter, Lapine. Paul Gemignani is the musical director, with John Carrafa (Urinetown) choreographing. The revival is produced by Dodger Theatricals. Designing the show are Brian MacDevitt (lighting), Susan Hilferty (costumes), Douglas W. Schmidt (set) and Dan Moses Schreier (sound).
Billed as a family show, Into the Woods twists popular fairy tales, infusing them with an adult sense of what happens after the "Happily Ever After." Jack's murder of the giant (of beanstalk fame) provokes the wrath of his giant wife (voiced in this production by Dame Judi Dench and appearing as a large moving shadow projected onto the stage). Cinderella's prince is a hopeless philanderer. The witch is not wicked but overprotective of her daughter. And a slightly psychotic Little Red Riding Hood proudly wears the grey skin of the wolf she cut up. The score is one of Sondheim's most popular, with the comic and manic "Into the Woods," "Agony" and "On the Steps of the Palace" contrasting with the dramatic and wondering "Children Will Listen," "No One Is Alone" and "Giants in the Sky."
The family aspect of the show is stressed in the merchandising. Among the typical offerings, like baseball caps, pins and t-shirts, are mini velvet bags filled with jelly beans and plastic "golden eggs" filled with Silly Putty.
Tickets are $99-$40. The Broadhurst Theatre is located at 235 West 44th Street. For reservations, call (212) . Into the Woods has an official website at http://www.IntoTheWoodsBroadway.com.
For more information on the revisions and quotes from the stars, read the article Into the Woods Broadway Will Go — Dancing on the Journey.
A spokesperson from the Boneau Bryan-Brown press office has confirmed what has been whispered for weeks — the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical will get a new recording.
Details on the release are pending. Nonesuch has been mentioned as a possible partner (they recently released a recording of Sondheim's The Frogs, featuring Nathan Lane and Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Evening Primrose with Neil Patrick Harris), but that could not be confirmed.
Williams has recorded a previously released cast album before. When she took over for Chita Rivera in Kiss of the Spider Woman on Broadway, Mercury recorded her in the title role, alongside her co-stars Stokes Mitchell and Howard McGillin. That album was billed as the New Broadway Cast recording, while Rivera's is referred to as the Original Cast Recording (most of Rivera's London cast crossed the Atlantic to open Kiss on Broadway).