A childless baker and his wife cannot have a child until they follow the bidding of the witch next door to get a cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold. Good thing, then that they've got neighbors named Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Cinderella to help them before (and after) Happily Ever After.Written by
"Into the Woods" has to be my favorite musical of all time, and the video production has to be my favorite video of a musical of all time. The cast is incredible, the costumes are enchanting, the set is dazzling, the dialogue is fun, the music is beautiful, and the entire production is 100% perfection.
For those not familiar with Sondheim's greatest work, "Into the Woods" blends four famous fairy tales- Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack and the Beanstalk- into one continuous story, intertwined with the tale of a lonely Baker and his Wife who long for a child of their own.
Tom Aldrege is amazing as the Narrator and Mysterious Old Man, he will truly make you examine how you've lived your life during his heart-wrenching duet with the Baker, "No More". Kim Crosby is mesmerizing as Cinderella, and she brings an underrated sense of comedy and excitement to the role of the rags-to-riches servant who simply doesn't know what she wants. Barbara Bryne, as the over-the-top fanatical mother of the boy who climbs the beanstalk is a laugh-riot from start to finish, but proves her fantastic acting ability in her melodramatic death scene. With the exception of Chip Zien's cardboard portrayal of the Baker, the rest of the cast is equally fantastic, but two others stand out in particular: Joanna Gleason and Bernadette Peters. Ms. Gleason does a beautiful job as the Baker's Wife, flying into angry flurries, sorrowful confessions, sympathetic matriarchies, and comedic fits of joy left and right. And each emotion is entirely believable and utterly astounding. Top it all off with an awesome singing voice and an incredible stage presence and you have an A-list actress in an A-list role. And last, but most certainly not least, the ever-enchanting Bernadette Peters. As always, Ms. Peters is stunning in her portrayal of the Witch. Her beautiful voice and porcelain-doll appearance fit the role magnificently. She is one of the best actresses of all history, and she fits perfectly into the role of the obsessive mother who only wants to be loved. She is in equal doses silly, flighty, shrill, mean, loving, and haunted, and this role will, for me anyway, never belong to anyone except for Bernadette.
Besides the acting, this show is simply a wonderful story. It's a fable, a parable of sorts, of growing up and a reflection of society. At every turn, we learn lessons that will do us good to remember: "Nice is different than good" (as Little Red Riding Hood puts it), appearances can be deceiving, everyone wants to feel needed, sometimes you just have to take chances, our lives can change unexpectedly, being underhanded and sneaky won't do anything but get you in trouble, and, of course, "No one is alone". Among many, many others.
So, if you're looking for a great show with excellent music, brilliant acting, a fabulous story, and a nice lesson at the end, this is it! Go out and buy it today!
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