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.