Almost three tumultuous decades ago my good friend KennyB, he who frequently comments on the beautiful men posted here, and I went to the world premiere of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Into The Woods” at San Diego’s Globe Theater. It was an extraordinary experience being among the first to see this now seminal musical. A musical so embroidered into the fabric of American theater that it has even been performed by students in my local small town high school musical theater department. It’s a standard and has truly stood the test of time and will, no doubt, still be performed hundreds of years from now. (Should the human race manage to survive that long.)
Finally, come Christmas, a wonderful gift will open for all of us lovers of the works of Sondheim, arguably the most brilliant and accomplished of Broadway musical composers. “Into The Woods” (ITW) is a wry look at fairy tales and the affect they have on children. It is staged as a fantasy, but hits upon so many realistic truths that one leaves the theater changed by its thrilling dramatic impact. Everything that makes book musicals one of the greatest inventions of America is presented beautifully, comically, tragically, and poignantly in this now classic musical.
I have long heard that Rob Marshall, the director of another musical gem, Kander and Ebb’s “Chicago”, was set to direct a film of ITW with Meryl Streep attached. I hoped that it would finally be realized with someone possessing enough insight into the musical’s many merits that everyone would get to see what I have always cherished.
Today, the teaser trailer for the Christmas release of ITW was debuted and I am thrilled to say, from what little I have seen, that any fears I had that this classic would fail to be given its proper due aren’t realized. With a terrific cast that not only includes Ms. Streep as Rapunzel’s Witch, but features Johnny Depp as The Big Bad Wolf who pursues Little Red Riding Hood, Chris Pine as Cinderella’s shallow and self-absorbed prince, Tracey Ullman as Jack’ s (of “and The Beanstalk” fame) harried and addled mother, Christine Baranski as Cinderella’s wicked stepmother and Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife, it is hard to imagine this film adaptation failing. However, a word of caution is provided after the bitter memory of the cinematic treatment of “Les Miserable”. Thankfully, for the most part, this cast can sing.
I know where I’m going to be this Christmas.
And here’s a taste of Sondheim’s amazing score: