Posts Tagged ‘Into the Woods’

A Magical ‘Into the Woods’ at the Wallis Annenberg Center

13 December 2014
Into the Woods production photo - from Annenberg Center website

Into the Woods production photo – from Annenberg Center website

Last Thursday night, my wife Carrie and I and our friend (and my mom’s close friend) Michael went to see Into the Woods on stage at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. It was wonderful.

Spoiler Note: if you’re about to go see this production, don’t read after the jump below. There’s a great trick that you’ll want to be surprised by.

I’ve seen Into the Woods over a half-dozen times on stage, including seeing an early version of the musical in San Diego before it went to Broadway. I’ve watched the basic video of the Broadway cast performance maybe a dozen times. I’ve listened to the cast recording more than a hundred times.

My mom was a huge Stephen Sondheim fan. So we would go see Sondheim musicals being performed all around greater Los Angeles. I’ve written a little about Sondheim earlier at this blog: here, here, and here.

I subjected my wife to the original Broadway cast video, and even (thanks, Michael!) to the recent 20-year original cast reunion performance in Orange County, but this was her first time seeing Into the Woods live on stage. I read about the Annenberg performance and was interested to see it on stage, in part, because there’s a big Into the Woods movie that’s about to come out, and I wanted my wife to see it on stage before she sees it on the big screen. Though I am sometimes disappointed with books I like being made into movies, I am looking forward to the Into the Woods movie. I expect that it will introduce this great work to a much broader audience. But… it’s going to be a new interpretation, with some edits and some liberties taken… and it’s likely to carve a deep groove. I expect that my wife and my daughter and I will see the film version over and over.

All that to say that I was really looking forward to seeing the stage version.

And it didn’t disappoint.

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Chidren will listen

10 August 2011

Stephen Sondheim – photo from the Merrily We Roll Along LP cover

My mother, Marge Linton, was a huge fan of Stephen Sondheim, the incredibly wonderful composer and lyricist responsible for a host of wonderful musicals from Sweeney Todd to A Little Night Music to West Side Story and much much more.

The first time mom saw Sweeney Todd (the musical, not the movie, which she also enjoyed) was in the early 1980s, while I was away at Occidental College. She wrote me a letter that quoted all sorts of lyrics. I am pretty sure that she ran out and bought the soundtrack, as opposed to having memorized them from hearing a performance. I enjoyed mom’s letter, which I think was more than a third quoting Sweeney Todd lyrics, but I wasn’t entirely convinced of Todd‘s greatness until I later attended a live performance with her, soon thereafter. Since then, I’ve seen Todd, with mom, at least a half-dozen times at Cal State L.A., Occidental College, by the East West Players, and more.

Since mom passed away, I’ve been listening to a lot of Sondheim. As we, her kids, were sorting through her possessions, I got away with quite a few Sondheim CDs – even ones that I hadn’t even heard of – from Sweeney Todd Live at the New York Philharmonic to Sondheim Sings volumes 1 and 2. Sondheim Sings features remastered early versions of Sondheim songs sung by Sondheim himself accompanied by himself on piano. In few cases, he fills in missing lyrics with a sort of place-holder scat-singing. It’s a treat for me to see/hear work in progress… sometimes I think that the striving of the creative process is at least as interesting as the polished final product. (Some time I will tell the story of how I used to enjoy the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra’s rehearsals… but that’s another story. [Updated – see later LBSO story here.]) (more…)