This imaginative, contemporary take on Into the Woods is based on the 2010 Regent's Park Open Air Theatre London staging. The Public Theater enlisted original London co-directors Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel to re-explore the production in a new incarnation for Shakespeare in the Park, which opened Aug. 9 after previews that began July 24.
The set, a collaboration between original Open Air Theatre designer Soutra Gilmour and Tony winner John Lee Beatty, rises over 50 feet in the air, with a series of tree-covered catwalks and pathways. The production takes advantage of its verdant Central Park setting, with views of Belvedere Castle visible through the trees beyond the stage.
As previously reported, Joey Parnes, the former executive director of the Public Theater, who was represented on Broadway this season with End of the Rainbow, is working to raise funding for a $6 to $7 million Broadway transfer of Into the Woods, though no official announcement has been made and actor scheduling conflicts and mixed reviews make a transfer unlikely.
The musical has a Tony-winning score by Sondheim and a Tony-winning book by Lapine, who also staged both Broadway productions of the musical. Into the Woods, a collision of several fairytales including Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk, ends its first act as each character gets his or her wish. The second act explores the shadows of wishes granted and the cost of chasing those desires.
The cast is led by original 1987 Broadway Into the Woods cast member Chip Zien as the Mysterious Man, with Tony Award winner Donna Murphy (Passion, Wonderful Town) as the Witch, Tony Award winner Denis O'Hare (Take Me Out, Assassins) as the Baker, Academy Award nominee Amy Adams ("Enchanted," "The Fighter") as the Baker's Wife, Tony nominee Jessie Mueller (On a Clear Day...) as Cinderella and Tony Award winner Glenn Close (Sunset Boulevard, Death and the Maiden, "Damages," "Fatal Attraction") as the voice of the Giant.
|photo by Joan Marcus|
Completing the company are Jack Broderick (Narrator), Gideon Glick (Jack), Cooper Grodin (Rapunzel's Prince), Ivan Hernandez (Cinderella's Prince/Wolf), Tina Johnson (Granny), Josh Lamon (Steward), Laura Shoop (Cinderella's Mother), Tess Soltau (Rapunzel), Sarah Stiles (Vanities) as Little Red Ridinghood, Kristine Zbornik (A Catered Affair) as Jack's Mother, Ellen Harvey (How to Succeed...) as Cinderella’s Stepmother, and Bethany Moore (Spider-Man) and Jennifer Rias (Rock of Ages) as the Stepsisters.
Ensemble members include Victoria Cook, Johnny Newcomb, Noah Radcliffe and Eric R. Williams.
The Into the Woods creative team also included costume design by Emily Rebholz; movement direction by Liam Steel; sound design by Acme Sound Partners; orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick; and musical direction by Paul Gemignani.
Here's how The Public characterizes the show: "In Into the Woods, a witch's curse condemns the Baker and his Wife to a life without children. They embark on a quest to find the four items required to break the spell: the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold. Will they succeed? And what happens after 'happily ever after?' A Tony Award-winning masterpiece by musical theatre giants Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, Into the Woods is a witty and irreverent reimagining of beloved classic fairytales: Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Cinderella."
Into the Woods premiered on Broadway in 1987 at the Martin Beck Theatre starring Bernadette Peters, Chip Zien, Joanna Gleason, Kim Crosby and Robert Westenberg. The original cast performance was preserved by PBS' American Playhouse in 1991. A 2002 Broadway revival played the Broadhurst Theatre.
Tickets to Shakespeare in the Park are free and are distributed, two per person, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park the day of the show. The Public Theater also offers free tickets through its Virtual Ticketing lottery at www.shakespeareinthepark.org on the day of the show.
The Delacorte Theater in Central Park is accessible by entering at 81st Street and Central Park West or at 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.