Into the Woods
Into the Woods poster.jpg
Poster for the original Broadway production
MusicStephen Sondheim
LyricsStephen Sondheim
BookJames Lapine
BasisThe Uses of Enchantment
by Bruno Bettelheim

Into the Woods is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by James Lapine.

The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales, exploring the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. The main characters are taken from "Little Red Riding Hood" (spelled "Ridinghood" in the published vocal score), "Jack and the Beanstalk", "Rapunzel", and "Cinderella", as well as several others. The musical is tied together by a story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family (the original beginning of the Grimm Brothers' "Rapunzel"), their interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them, and their interaction with other storybook characters during their journey.

The musical debuted in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre in 1986 and premiered on Broadway on November 5, 1987, where it won three major Tony Awards (Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical for Joanna Gleason), in a year dominated by The Phantom of the Opera (1988). The musical has since been produced many times, with a 1988 US national tour, a 1990 West End production, a 1997 tenth anniversary concert, a 2002 Broadway revival, a 2010 London revival,[1] and in 2012 as part of New York City's outdoor Shakespeare in the Park series.

A Disney film adaptation, directed by Rob Marshall, was released in 2014. The film grossed over $213 million worldwide,[2] and received three nominations at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards.

A second Broadway revival is set to begin performances on June 28, 2022 at the St. James Theatre.


Act I

A Narrator introduces four characters: Cinderella, who wishes to attend the King's festival; Jack who wishes his cow, Milky White, would give milk; a Baker; and his Wife, both of whom wish to have a child. Cinderella's step-family mocks her wish and Jack's mother laments that she wishes for wealth. Little Red Ridinghood appears at the bakery wishing for bread and sweets to bring to her grandmother's house. Cinderella's stepmother dumps a pot of lentils into the fireplace for Cinderella to clean up, promising that only then will they let her go to the festival. To help her, she calls for birds in the skies. Meanwhile, a witch appears at the bakery revealing to the baker and his wife that they are infertile because of a spell she placed on the baker's father many years ago. She explains that his father stole vegetables from the Witch's garden to appease his wife's appetite as she was pregnant. As he was leaving, he stole some beans for himself that he did not realize were magic. When they were taken from the garden, the Witch lost her beauty. In return, she stole their daughter Rapunzel and caused the spell over their family. She explains that the only way to lift the spell is to find four ingredients in the woods: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold and bring them to her before three days is up. As Cinderella's step-family prepares to leave for the festival, they once again refuse Cinderella's wish to go with them. As he is preparing to leave, the Baker finds six magic beans in his father's old jacket. All begin their journeys into the woods: Jack to sell his beloved cow; Cinderella to seek advice from her mother's grave; Little Red to her grandmother's house; and the Baker, refusing his Wife's help, to find the ingredients ("Prologue: Into the Woods").

When she gets to her mother's grave, Cinderella repeats her wish to attend the festival and the spirit of her mother gifts her with a gown and golden slippers ("Cinderella at the Grave"). A Mysterious Man mocks Jack for valuing his cow more than a "sack of beans". Little Red meets a hungry Wolf who distracts her from her path, hatching a plan to eat both her and her grandmother ("Hello Little Girl"). The Baker, secretly followed by his Wife, meets Jack. Together, they convince Jack that the beans found in the jacket are magic, trade them for the cow and Jack bids Milky White a tearful farewell ("I Guess This Is Goodbye"). The Baker feels guilty about their deceit, but his wife reassures him that it will pay off when they get their child ("Maybe They're Magic").

It is revealed that the Witch has raised Rapunzel in a tall tower, only accessible by climbing Rapunzel's long, golden hair ("Our Little World"); a Prince spies Rapunzel and plans to meet her. When the Baker passes by Little Red's grandmother's house, he finds that the Wolf has eaten them both. In pursuit of her red cape, he stabs the Wolf and rescues Little Red and her grandmother. In return, Little Red gives him her cape, and reflects on her experiences ("I Know Things Now"). When Jack's Mother sees the exchange Jack has made for Milky White, she angrily tosses his beans aside, which grow into an enormous stalk. Cinderella flees the Festival, pursued by another Prince, and the Baker's Wife helps to hide her. When asked about the ball, Cinderella is unimpressed ("A Very Nice Prince"). Spotting Cinderella's gold slippers, the Baker's Wife chases her and loses Milky White as a clock chimes twelve times ("First Midnight").

Jack describes his adventure climbing the beanstalk ("Giants in the Sky") and gives the Baker gold he stole from the giants to buy back his cow. The Baker is hesitant about selling so Jack returns up the beanstalk to find more. The Mysterious Man questions what the Baker cares more about, the money or his child, and takes the money. Cinderella's Prince and Rapunzel's Prince lament over their loves ("Agony") and the Baker's Wife overhears their talk of a girl with golden hair. As she takes hair from Rapunzel, the Baker finds Milky White, aided by the Mysterious Man. The Baker admits they must work together and they hatch a plan to finally seize Cinderella's slipper ("It Takes Two"). Jack arrives with a golden egg as more money for the Baker but Milky White dies as midnight chimes ("Second Midnight"). The Witch discovers the Prince's visits and demands Rapunzel stay sheltered from the world ("Stay with Me"). Rapunzel refuses, and the Witch cuts off her hair, banishing her to a desert. Jack meets Little Red, now sporting a wolf skin cape and knife. He brags about his adventures in the sky, and mentions a golden harp owned by the Giant. She skeptically goads him into returning to the Giant's home to retrieve it.

Cinderella, torn between staying with her Prince or escaping, leaves him one of her slippers, putting the decision into his hands ("On the Steps of the Palace"), and trades shoes with the Baker's Wife for the last magic bean, though she throws it away in the process. The Baker arrives with another cow and they rejoice over having all four objects, however, the Witch discovers that the Baker has covered a cow in flour to make it appear white. The Witch resurrects Milky White and Jack returns with the harp. A great crash is heard, and Jack's mother reports a dead Giant in her backyard, though no one pays attention. The Witch instructs the Baker to feed the objects to Milky White, though no milk is produced. The Witch learns that the hair is Rapunzel's and will not work because she had touched it. When the Mysterious Man proposes using corn silk instead, Milky White produces the potion and the Witch drinks it, making her young and beautiful once again. She also reveals that the Mysterious Man is the Baker's father, though he dies as soon as she drinks the potion.

Cinderella's Prince seeks the girl who fits the slipper and the desperate stepsisters mutilate their feet, though the Prince sees through it, eventually seeing Cinderella and realizing that she is the one ("Careful My Toe"). Rapunzel is found by her Prince and as the Witch attempts to curse her, she realizes that in exchange for her beauty, she has lost her powers. At Cinderella's wedding, her stepsisters are blinded by birds, and the Baker's Wife, now pregnant, thanks Cinderella for her help. Congratulating themselves on living happily ("Ever After"), the characters fail to notice another beanstalk growing.

Act 2

The Narrator continues, "Once Upon a Time... Later". Everyone still has wishes: the Baker and his Wife face new frustrations with their infant son; newly rich Jack misses the kingdom in the sky; Cinderella is bored with life in the palace ("So Happy"); but all are still relatively content. With a tremendous crash, a Giant's foot destroys the Witch's garden, and damages the Baker's home. The Baker travels to the palace, but his warning is ignored by the Prince's Steward. Returning home, he finds Little Red on her way to Granny's; he and his Wife escort her. Jack decides to slay the Giant and Cinderella investigates her mother's disturbed grave. Everyone returns to the woods, but now "the skies are strange, the winds are strong" ("Into the Woods" Reprise). Rapunzel, driven mad, also flees to the woods. Her Prince follows and meets his brother; they confess their lust for two new women, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty ("Agony" Reprise).

The Baker, his Wife, and Little Red find Cinderella's family and the Steward, who reveal the castle was set upon by the Giant. The Witch brings news that the Giant destroyed the village and the Baker's house. The Giantess – widow of the Giant who Jack killed – appears, seeking revenge. The group decides to offer up the Narrator as a sacrifice. Jack's mother defends her son. This angers the Giantess, and the Steward keeps Jack's mother quiet and ends up killing her. As the Giantess leaves to try and find Jack, Rapunzel gets trampled ("Witch's Lament"). The Baker pleas for The Royal Family to stay and fight. However, they decide to flee instead.The Witch vows to find Jack and give him to the Giantess. Not wanting anything to happen to Jack, the Baker and his Wife split up to find him first. Cinderella's Prince then seduces the Baker's Wife ("Any Moment"). The Baker ends up finding Cinderella and convinces her to join their group. The Baker's Wife reflects on her affair with the Prince ("Moments in the Woods"), but encounters the Giantess and is killed.

The Baker, Little Red, and Cinderella await the return of the Baker's Wife when the Witch arrives with Jack, found weeping over the Baker's Wife's body. The Baker blames Jack and the two, along with Cinderella and Little Red argue and blame each other before all turning on the Witch ("Your Fault"). Chastising their inability to accept the consequences of their own actions, the Witch throws away the rest of her beans, thus regaining her powers so that she can vanish, abandoning the group ("Last Midnight"). Grief-stricken, the Baker flees, but is convinced by his father's spirit to face his responsibilities ("No More"). He returns and the group devises a plan to kill the Giantess. Cinderella stays behind with the Baker's child and confronts her Prince over his infidelity; he explains his feelings of unfulfillment and that he was only raised to be charming, but not sincere, and she asks him to leave, which he reluctantly does.

Little Red discovers her grandmother has been killed by the Giantess, as the Baker tells Jack that his mother is dead. Jack vows to kill the Steward but the Baker dissuades and comforts him, while Cinderella comforts Little Red. The Baker and Cinderella explain that choices have consequences, and everyone is connected ("No One Is Alone"). The four together slay the Giantess. The other characters – including the Royal Family, most of whom have starved to death, and the Princes with their new paramours (Sleeping Beauty and Snow White) – return to share one last set of morals. The survivors band together, the Baker, Cinderella, Jack and Little Red decide to live together, and the spirit of the Baker's Wife comforts her mourning husband, encouraging him to tell their child their story. The Baker begins to tell his son the tale, while the Witch and the rest of the characters, dead and alive, offer a final lesson: "Careful the things you say: Children will listen" ("Finale").

Musical numbers

*Not included in the original Broadway cast recording
**Added for the 1990 London production


Pre-Broadway San Diego production

Into the Woods premiered at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, on December 4, 1986, and ran for 50 performances, under the direction of James Lapine.[3] Many of the performers from that production appeared in the Broadway cast, but John Cunningham, who played the Narrator, Wolf and Steward, and George Coe, as the Mysterious Man and Cinderella's Father, were replaced by Tom Aldredge, among others. Kenneth Marshall as Cinderella's Prince was replaced by Robert Westenberg (who also played the Wolf); LuAnne Ponce, who played Little Red Ridinghood, was replaced by Danielle Ferland; Ellen Foley, the Witch, was replaced by Bernadette Peters; Kay McClelland, who played both Rapunzel and the Stepsister Florinda, stayed with the cast but only played Florinda, with Rapunzel being played by Pamela Winslow.

The show evolved, and the most notable change was the addition of the song "No One Is Alone" in the middle of the run.

Original Broadway production

Into the Woods opened on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on November 5, 1987, and closed on September 3, 1989, after 765 performances. It starred Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, Kim Crosby, Ben Wright, Danielle Ferland, Chuck Wagner, Merle Louise, Tom Aldredge, and Robert Westenberg. The musical was directed by James Lapine, with musical staging by Lar Lubovitch, settings by Tony Straiges, lighting by Richard Nelson, costumes by Ann Hould-Ward (based on original concepts by Patricia Zipprodt and Ann Hould-Ward), and makeup by Jeff Raum. The original production won the 1988 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award and the Drama Desk Award for Best Musical, and the original cast recording won a Grammy Award. The show was nominated for ten Tony Awards, and won three: Best Score (Stephen Sondheim), Best Book (James Lapine) and Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason).

Peters left the show after almost five months due to a prior commitment to film the movie Slaves of New York.[4] The Witch was then played by: Betsy Joslyn (from March 30, 1988);[5] Phylicia Rashad (from April 14, 1988); Betsy Joslyn (from July 5, 1988); Nancy Dussault (from December 13, 1988);[6] and Ellen Foley (from August 1, 1989, until the closing).[7] Understudies for the part included Joslyn, Marin Mazzie, Lauren Vélez, Suzzanne Douglas, and Joy Franz.

Other cast replacements included Dick Cavett as the Narrator (as of July 19, 1988) (for a temporary engagement after which Tom Aldredge returned), Edmund Lyndeck as the Mysterious Man, Patricia Ben Peterson as Cinderella, LuAnne Ponce returning to the role of Little Red Ridinghood, Jeff Blumenkrantz as Jack, Marin Mazzie as Rapunzel (as of March 7, 1989), Dean Butler as Rapunzel's Prince and Kay McClelland, Lauren Mitchell, Cynthia Sikes and Mary Gordon Murray as the Baker's Wife.[7]

In 1989, from May 23 to May 25 the full original cast (with the exception of Cindy Robinson as Snow White instead of Jean Kelly) reunited for three performances to tape the musical in its entirety for the Season 10 premiere episode of PBS’s American Playhouse, which first aired on March 15, 1991. The show was filmed professionally with seven cameras on the set of the Martin Beck Theater in front of an audience with certain elements changed from its standard production only slightly for the recording in order to better fit the screen rather than the stage such as the lighting, minor costume differences, and others. There were also pick up shots not filmed in front of an audience for various purposes. This video has since been released on Tape and DVD and on occasion, remastered and re-released.[8]

Tenth Anniversary benefit performances were held on November 9, 1997, at the Broadway Theatre (New York), with most of the original cast.[9] Original cast understudies Chuck Wagner and Jeff Blumenkrantz played Cinderella's Prince/Wolf and the Steward in place of Robert Westenberg and Philip Hoffmann, while Jonathan Dokuchitz (who joined the Broadway production as an understudy in 1989) played Rapunzel's Prince in place of Wagner. This concert featured the duet "Our Little World," written for the first London production of the show.

On November 9, 2014, most of the original cast reunited for two reunion concerts and discussion in Costa Mesa, California. Mo Rocca hosted the reunion and interviewed Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine as well as each cast member. Appearing were Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, Danielle Ferland, Ben Wright and real life husband and wife, Robert Westenberg and Kim Crosby.[10] The same group presented this discussion/concert on June 21, 2015, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City.[11]

1988 US tour production

A United States tour began on November 22, 1988, with Cleo Laine playing the Witch, replaced by Betsy Joslyn in May 1989. Rex Robbins played the Narrator and Mysterious Man, Charlotte Rae played Jack's Mother, and the Princes were played by Chuck Wagner and Douglas Sills. The set was almost completely reconstructed, and there were certain changes to the script, changing certain story elements. The 10-month tour[12] played cities around the country, such as Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.[13][14] The tour ran at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from June 1989 to July 16, 1989, with the reviewer for The Washington Post writing: "his lovely score – poised between melody and dissonance – is the perfect measure of our tenuous condition. The songs invariably follow the characters' thinking patterns, as they weigh their options and digest their experience. Needless to say, that doesn't make for traditional show-stoppers. But it does make for vivacity of another kind. And Sondheim's lyrics...are brilliant.... I think you'll find these cast members alert and engaging."[15]

Original London production

The album cover of the London cast recording
The album cover of the London cast recording

The original West End production opened on September 25, 1990 at the Phoenix Theatre and closed on February 23, 1991 after 197 performances. It was directed by Richard Jones, and produced by David Mirvish, with set design by Richard Hudson, choreography by Anthony Van Laast, costumes by Sue Blane and orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. The cast featured Julia McKenzie as the Witch, Ian Bartholomew as the Baker, Imelda Staunton as the Baker's Wife and Clive Carter as the Wolf/Cinderella's Prince. The show received seven Olivier Award nominations in 1991, winning for Best Actress in a Musical (Staunton) and Best Director of a Musical (Jones).

The song "Our Little World" was added.[16] This song was a duet sung between the Witch and Rapunzel giving further insight into the care the Witch has for her self-proclaimed daughter and the desire Rapunzel has to see the world outside of her tower. The overall feel of the show was a lot darker than that of the original Broadway production. Critic Michael Billington wrote, "But the evening's triumph belongs also to director Richard Jones, set designer Richard Hudson and costume designer Sue Blane who evoke exactly the right mood of haunted theatricality. Old-fashioned footlights give the faces a sinister glow. The woods themselves are a semi-circular, black-and-silver screen punctuated with nine doors and a crazy clock: they achieve exactly the 'agreeable terror' of Gustave Dore's children's illustrations. And the effects are terrific: doors open to reveal the rotating magnified eyeball or the admonitory finger of the predatory giant."[17]

1998 London revival production

A new intimate production of the show opened (billed as the first London revival) at the Donmar Warehouse on 16 November 1998, closing on 13 February 1999. This revival was directed by John Crowley and designed by his brother, Bob Crowley. The cast included Clare Burt as the Witch, Nick Holder as the Baker, Sophie Thompson as the Baker's Wife, Jenna Russell as Cinderella, Sheridan Smith as Little Red Ridinghood and Frank Middlemass as the Narrator/Mysterious Man.[18] Russell later appeared as the Baker's Wife in the 2010 Regent's Park production. Thompson won the 1999 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance, while the production itself was nominated for Outstanding Musical Production.

2002 Broadway revival production

A poster for the 2002 Broadway revival
A poster for the 2002 Broadway revival

A revival opened at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, running from February 1, 2002 to March 24, 2002. This production was directed and choreographed with the same principal cast that later ran on Broadway.[19]

The 2002 Broadway revival, directed by James Lapine and choreographed by John Carrafa, began previews on April 13, 2002 and opened April 30, 2002 at the Broadhurst Theatre, closing on December 29 after a run of 18 previews and 279 regular performances. It starred Vanessa Williams as the Witch, John McMartin as the Narrator/Mysterious Man, Stephen DeRosa as the Baker, Kerry O'Malley as the Baker's Wife, Gregg Edelman as Cinderella's Prince/Wolf, Christopher Sieber as Rapunzel's Prince/Wolf, Molly Ephraim as Little Red Ridinghood, Adam Wylie as Jack, and Laura Benanti as Cinderella. Judi Dench provided the pre-recorded voice of the Giant.

Lapine revised the script slightly for this production, with a cameo appearance of the Three Little Pigs restored from the earlier San Diego production.[20][21][22] Other changes, apart from numerous small dialogue changes, included the addition of the song "Our Little World," a duet for the Witch and Rapunzel written for the first London production, the addition of a second wolf in the song "Hello Little Girl" who competes for Little Red's attention with the first Wolf, the portrayal of Jack's cow by a live performer (Chad Kimball) in an intricate costume and new lyrics were written for "Last Midnight," now a menacing lullaby sung by the Witch to the Baker's baby.[22]

This production featured scenic design by Douglas W. Schmidt, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt, sound design by Dan Moses Schreier and projection design by Elaine J. McCarthy. The revival won the Tony Awards for the Best Revival of a Musical and Best Lighting Design.[23] This Broadway revival wardrobe is on display at the Costume World in South Florida.

London Royal Opera House, 2007

A revival at the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio in Covent Garden had a limited run from June 14 through June 30, 2007 followed by a short stint at The Lowry theatre, Salford Quays, Manchester between 4–7 July. The production mixed Opera singers, Musical Theatre actors as well as Film and television actors; including Anne Reid as Jack's Mother and Gary Waldhorn as the Narrator. The production itself, directed by Will Tuckett, was met with mixed reviews; although there were clear stand out performances.[24][25][26]

The production completely sold out three weeks before opening. As this was an 'opera' production, the show and its performers were overlooked in the 'musical' nominations for the 2008 Laurence Olivier Awards. This production featured Suzie Toase (Little Red), Peter Caulfield (Jack), Beverley Klein (Witch), Anna Francolini (Baker's Wife), Clive Rowe (Baker), Nicholas Garrett (Wolf), and Lara Pulver (Lucinda). This was the second Sondheim musical to be staged by the Opera House, following 2003's Sweeney Todd.

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre production, 2010

The Olivier Award-winning Regent's Park Open Air Theatre production, directed by Timothy Sheader and choreographed by Liam Steel, ran for a six-week limited season from 6 August to 11 September 2010. The cast included Hannah Waddingham as the Witch, Mark Hadfield as the Baker, Jenna Russell as the Baker's wife, Helen Dallimore as Cinderella, and Judi Dench as the recorded voice of the Giant. Gareth Valentine was the Musical Director.[27][28] The musical was performed outdoors in a wooded area. Whilst the book remained mostly unchanged, the subtext of the plot was dramatically altered by casting the role of the Narrator as a young school boy lost in the woods following a family argument – a device used to further illustrate the musical's themes of parenting and adolescence.

The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Production, with Beverly Rudd as Little Red Ridinghood
The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Production, with Beverly Rudd as Little Red Ridinghood

The production opened to wide critical acclaim, much of the press commenting on the effectiveness of the open air setting. The Telegraph reviewer, for example, wrote: "It is an inspired idea to stage this show in the magical, sylvan surroundings of Regent's Park, and designer Soutra Gilmour has come up with a marvellously rickety, adventure playground of a set, all ladders, stairs and elevated walkways, with Rapunzel discovered high up in a tree."[29] The New York Times reviewer commented: "The natural environment makes for something genuinely haunting and mysterious as night falls on the audience..."[30] Stephen Sondheim attended twice, reportedly extremely pleased with the production. The production also won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival and Michael Xavier, who played Cinderella's Prince and the Wolf, was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.

The production was recorded in its entirety, available to download and watch from Digital Theatre.

Central Park Delacorte Theater production, 2012

The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre production transferred to the Public Theater's 2012 summer series of free performances Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, New York, with an American cast as well as new designers.[31] Sheader again was the director and Steel served as co-director and choreographer. Performances were originally to run from July 24 (delayed from July 23 due to the weather) to August 25, 2012, but the show was extended till September 1, 2012.[32] The cast included Amy Adams as the Baker's Wife, Donna Murphy as the Witch, Denis O'Hare as the Baker, Chip Zien as the Mysterious Man/Cinderella's Father, Jack Broderick as the young Narrator, Gideon Glick as Jack, Cooper Grodin as Rapunzel's Prince, Ivan Hernandez as Cinderella's Prince/Wolf, Tina Johnson as Granny, Josh Lamon as the Steward, Jessie Mueller as Cinderella, Laura Shoop as Cinderella's Mother, Tess Soltau as Rapunzel, and Glenn Close as the Voice of the Giant. The set was a "collaboration between original Open Air Theatre designer Soutra Gilmour and...John Lee Beatty, [and] rises over 50 feet in the air, with a series of tree-covered catwalks and pathways."[33] The production was dedicated to Nora Ephron, who died earlier in 2012. In February 2012 and in May 2012, reports of a possible Broadway transfer surfaced with the production's principal actors in negotiations to reprise their roles.[34][35][36] In January 2013, it was announced that the production will not transfer to Broadway due to scheduling conflicts.[37]

Hollywood Bowl production, 2019

For its annual fully staged musical event, the Hollywood Bowl produced a limited run of Into the Woods from July 26–28, 2019, directed and choreographed by Robert Longbottom.[38] The cast included Skylar Astin as the Baker, Sierra Boggess as Cinderella, Chris Carmack as Rapunzel's Prince, Anthony Crivello as the Mysterious Man, Sutton Foster as the Baker's Wife, Edward Hibbert as the Narrator, Cheyenne Jackson as Cinderella's Prince and the Wolf, Hailey Kilgore as Rapunzel, Gaten Matarazzo as Jack, Patina Miller as the Witch, Rebecca Spencer as Jack's Mother, Shanice Williams as Little Red Ridinghood, and Whoopi Goldberg as the voice of the Giant.[39] The production featured Ann Hould-Ward's costumes from the Original Broadway Production.

2022 Broadway revival production

Poster for the 2022 Broadway revival
Poster for the 2022 Broadway revival

In November 2020, it was announced that New York City Center would stage Into the Woods as part of its Encores! series.[40] In August 2021, it was announced that Christian Borle, Sara Bareilles, Ashley Park, and Heather Headley had joined the cast as, respectively, the Baker, his Wife, Cinderella, and the Witch. Park was initially scheduled to star in the Encores! production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[41] Headley had previously played the Witch at The Muny in 2015. In December 2021, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star Julia Lester joined the cast as Red Riding Hood, alongside Shereen Pimentel as Rapunzel, Jordan Donica as her Prince, and newcomer Cole Thompson as Jack.[42] In March 2022, it was revealed that Denée Benton had replaced Park as Cinderella, with other cast members including Gavin Creel as the Wolf/Cinderella's Prince, Annie Golden as Cinderella's Mother/Grandmother/Giant's Wife, Ann Harada as Jack's Mother, and David Patrick Kelly as Narrator/Mysterious Man.[43] In April 2022, Neil Patrick Harris was announced as playing the Baker, replacing Borle due to a schedule conflict.[44] The production ran from May 4–15, 2022 and was directed by Encores! artistic director Lear deBessonet.[45] This was the final Encores! show to have Rob Berman conducting the Encores! orchestra.[46]

Fewer than two weeks after closing the limited engagement at Encores!, it was announced that the production would transfer to Broadway at the St. James Theatre, beginning performances on June 28, 2022.[47] The production will officially open on July 10 and run through August 21 with most of the Encores! cast transferring, with the additions of Brian d'Arcy James as the Baker, Patina Miller as the Witch, Phillipa Soo as Cinderella, and Joshua Henry as Rapunzel's Prince.[48] Other new cast members will include Nancy Opel as Cinderella's Stepmother, Aymee Garcia as Jack's Mother, and Alysia Velez as Rapunzel.[49]

Other productions

A production played in Sydney from 19 March 1993 to 5 June 1993 at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. It starred Judi Connelli, Geraldine Turner, Tony Sheldon, Philip Quast, Pippa Grandison, and D. J. Foster.[50] A Melbourne Theatre Company played from 17 January 1998 to 21 February 1998 at the Playhouse, Victorian Arts Centre. It starred Rhonda Burchmore, John McTernan, Gina Riley, Lisa McCune, Peter Carroll, Tamsin Carroll and Robert Grubb.[51][52]

The first professional Spanish language production, Dentro del Bosque, was produced by University of Puerto Rico Repertory Theatre and premiered in San Juan at Teatro de la Universidad (University Theatre) on March 14, 2013. The cast included Víctor Santiago as Baker, Ana Isabelle as Baker's Wife and Lourdes Robles as the Witch[53]

A 25th anniversary co-production between Baltimore's Center Stage and Westport Country Playhouse directed by Mark Lamos was notable for casting original Little Red Ridinghood, Danielle Ferland, as the Baker's Wife. The cast included Erik Liberman, Lauren Kennedy, Jeffry Denman, Cheryl Stern, Dana Steingold, Justin Scott Brown, Jenny Latimer, Alma Cuervo, Nikka Lanzarone, Eleni Delopoulos, Nik Walker, Robert Lenzi, Britney Coleman, and Jeremy Lawrence.[54][55] The production received 2011-2012 Connecticut Critics Circle Awards for Best Production, Best Ensemble, and Steingold's Little Red Ridinghood.[56]

The Roundabout Theatre production, directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, began performances Off-Broadway at the Laura Pels Theatre on December 19, 2014 in previews, officially on January 22, 2015, and closed on April 12, 2015.[57][58] Like the original Broadway production 28 years prior, this production had a try-out run at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California from July 12, 2014 – August 17, 2014 with the opening night taking place on July 17.[59] This new version is completely minimalistically reimagined by the Fiasco Theater Company, featuring only ten actors playing multiple parts, and one piano accompanist.[60]

The DreamCatcher Theatre production opened in January 2015 and played a sold-out run at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Florida. Tituss Burgess starred as the Witch, the first male actor to do so.[61] The cast also included Arielle Jacobs as the Baker's Wife. The musical had a production at The Muny in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri running from July 21 through 28 2015. The cast included Heather Headley (Witch), Erin Dilly (Baker's Wife), Rob McClure (Baker), Ken Page (Narrator), and Elena Shaddow (Cinderella).[62] The Hart House Theatre production in Toronto, Ontario from January 15, 2016 to January 30, 2016.[63] A production ran at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds in a collaboration with Opera North from 2 June 2016 to 25 June 2016.[64] A 2022 production staged at Arkansas Repertory Theatre featured the pre-recorded voice of former Secretary of State and one-time Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as the Giant.[65]

2016 Tel Aviv production

The Israeli premiere, אל תוך היער (El Toch Ha-ya-ar), opened in Tel Aviv in August 2016 for a limited run produced by The Tramp Productions and Stuff Like That,[66] starring Roi Dolev as the Witch, the second male actor to do so.[67]


The main and supporting characters of Into the Woods.

Casting history

The principal original casts of notable stage productions of Into the Woods.

Role San Diego Broadway First National Tour West End First Broadway Revival West End Revival Regent's Park Open Air Theatre Central Park Production[33] Hollywood Bowl[38][39] New York City Center Encores! Second Broadway Revival
1986 1987 1988 1990 2002 2007 2010 2012 2019 2022
The Witch Ellen Foley Bernadette Peters Cleo Laine Julia McKenzie Vanessa Williams Beverly Klein Hannah Waddingham Donna Murphy Patina Miller Heather Headley Patina Miller
The Baker Chip Zien Ray Gill Ian Bartholomew Stephen DeRosa Clive Rowe Mark Hadfield Denis O'Hare Skylar Astin Neil Patrick Harris Brian d'Arcy James
The Baker's Wife Joanna Gleason Mary Gordon Murray Imelda Staunton Kerry O'Malley Anna Francolini Jenna Russell Amy Adams Sutton Foster Sara Bareilles
The Narrator John Cunningham Tom Aldredge Rex Robbins Nicholas Parsons John McMartin Gary Waldhorn Ethan Beer Jack Broderick Edward Hibbert David Patrick Kelly
The Mysterious Man George Coe John Rogan Martin Nelson Billy Boyle Chip Zien Anthony Crivello
Wolf John Cunningham Robert Westenberg Chuck Wagner Clive Carter Gregg Edelman Nicholas Garrett Michael Xavier Ivan Hernandez Cheyenne Jackson Gavin Creel
Cinderella's Prince Kenneth Marshall
Cinderella Kim Crosby Kathleen Rowe McAllen Jacqui Dankworth Laura Benanti Gillian Kirkpatrick Helen Dallimore Jessie Mueller Sierra Boggess Denée Benton Phillipa Soo
Rapunzel's Prince Chuck Wagner Douglas Sills Mark Tinkler Christopher Sieber Nic Greenshields Simon Thomas Cooper Grodin Chris Carmack Jordan Donica Joshua Henry
Rapunzel Kay McClelland Pamela Winslow Marguerite Lowell Mary Lincoln Melissa Dye Christina Haldane Alice Fearn Tess Soltau Hailey Kilgore Shereen Pimentel Alysia Velez
Little Red Riding Hood LuAnne Ponce Danielle Ferland Tracy Katz Tessa Burbridge Molly Ephraim Suzie Toase Beverly Rudd Sarah Stiles Shanice Williams Julia Lester
Jack Ben Wright Robert Duncan McNeill Richard Dempsey Adam Wylie Peter Caulfield Ben Stott Gideon Glick Gaten Matarazzo Cole Thompson
Jack's Mother Barbara Bryne Charlotte Rae Patsy Rowlands Marylouise Burke Anne Reid Marilyn Cutts Kristine Zbornik Rebecca Spencer Ann Harada Aymee Garcia
Grandmother Merle Louise Nora Mae Lyng Eunice Gayson[68] Pamela Myers Linda Hibberd Valda Avkis Tina Johnson Tamyra Gray Annie Golden
Cinderella's Mother Laura Benanti[69] Gemma Wardle Laura Shoop
Giant's Wife Judi Dench
Judi Dench
Glenn Close
Whoopi Goldberg
Cinderella's Stepmother Joy Franz Jo Ann Cunningham Ann Howard Pamela Myers Elizabeth Brice Gaye Brown Ellen Harvey Edelyn Okano Lauren Mitchell Nancy Opel
Florinda Kay McClelland Susan Gordon Clark Elizabeth Brice Tracy Nicole Chapman Louise Bowden Amy Ellen Richardson Bethany Moore Grace Yoo Brooke Ishibashi
Lucinda Lauren Mitchell Danette Cuming Liza Sadovy Amanda Naughton Lara Pulver Amy Griffiths Jennifer Rias Stella Kim Ta’Nika Gibson
Steward John Cunningham Philip Hoffman Marcus Olson Peter Ledbury Trent Armand Kendall Byron Watson Mark Goldthorp Josh Lamon Daniel López David Turner
Milky White N/A Chad Kimball N/A Kennedy Kanagawa


Junior version

The musical has been adapted into a child-friendly version for use by schools and young companies, with the second act completely removed, as well as almost half the material from the first. The show is shortened from the original 2 and a half hours to fit in a 50-minute range, and the music transposed into keys that more easily fit young voices. It is licensed through Music Theatre International Broadway Junior musicals.[71]


Main article: Into the Woods (film)

A theatrical film adaptation of the musical was produced by Walt Disney Pictures, directed by Rob Marshall, and starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, Lilla Crawford, Daniel Huttlestone, MacKenzie Mauzy, Billy Magnussen, and Johnny Depp.[72][73] The film was released on December 25, 2014.[74] It was a critical and commercial hit, grossing over $213 million worldwide. For her performance as the Witch, Streep was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[75] The film also received Academy Award nominations for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design.

Analysis of book and music

In most productions of Into the Woods, including the original Broadway production, several parts are doubled. Cinderella's Prince and the Wolf, who share the characteristic of being unable to control their appetites, are usually played by the same actor. Similarly, so are the Narrator and the Mysterious Man, who share the characteristic of commenting on the story while avoiding any personal involvement or responsibility. Granny and Cinderella's Mother, who are both matriarchal characters in the story, are also typically played by the same person, who also gives voice to the nurturing but later murderous Giant's Wife.

The show covers multiple themes: growing up, parents and children, accepting responsibility, morality, and finally, wish fulfillment and its consequences.[76] The Time Magazine reviewers wrote that the play's "basic insight... is at heart, most fairy tales are about the loving yet embattled relationship between parents and children. Almost everything that goes wrong—which is to say, almost everything that can—arises from a failure of parental or filial duty, despite the best intentions."[77] Stephen Holden wrote that the themes of the show include parent-child relationships and the individual's responsibility to the community. The witch isn't just a scowling old hag, but a key symbol of moral ambivalence. James Lapine said that the most unpleasant person (the Witch) would have the truest things to say and the "nicer" people would be less honest.[78] In the Witch's words: "I'm not good; I'm not nice; I'm just right."

Given the show's debut during the 1980s, the height of the US AIDS crisis, the work has been interpreted to be a parable about AIDS.[79][80] In this interpretation, the Giant's Wife serves as a metaphor for HIV/AIDS, killing good and bad characters indiscriminately and forcing the survivors to band together to stop the threat and move on from the devastation, reflecting the devastation to many communities during the AIDS crisis.[80][81][82][83] When asked about the thematic connection, Sondheim acknowledged that initial audiences interpreted it as an AIDS metaphor, but stated that the work was not intended to be specific.[80]

The score is also notable in Sondheim's output, because of its intricate reworking and development of small musical motifs. In particular, the opening words, "I wish", are set to the interval of a rising major second and this small unit is both repeated and developed throughout the show, just as Lapine's book explores the consequences of self-interest and "wishing". The dialogue in the show is characterized by the heavy use of syncopated speech. In many instances, the characters' lines are delivered with a fixed beat that follows natural speech rhythms, but is also purposely composed in eighth, sixteenth, and quarter note rhythms as part of a spoken song. Like many Sondheim/Lapine productions, the songs contain thought-process narrative, where characters converse or think aloud.

Sondheim drew on parts of his troubled childhood when writing the show. In 1987, he told Time Magazine that the "father uncomfortable with babies [was] his father, and [the] mother who regrets having had children [was] his mother."[84]

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1988 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Original Score Stephen Sondheim Won
Best Book of a Musical James Lapine Won
Best Direction of a Musical Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Joanna Gleason Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Robert Westenberg Nominated
Best Choreography Lar Lubovitch Nominated
Best Scenic Design Tony Straiges Nominated
Best Costume Design Ann Hould-Ward Nominated
Best Lighting Design Richard Nelson Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Won
Outstanding Music Stephen Sondheim Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics Won
Outstanding Book of a Musical James Lapine Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Musical Bernadette Peters Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Robert Westenberg Won
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Joanna Gleason Won
Danielle Ferland Nominated
Outstanding Set Design Tony Straiges Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design Ann Hould-Ward Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design Richard Nelson Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Jonathan Tunick Nominated

Original London production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1991 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated
Best Director of a Musical Richard Jones Won
Best Actor in a Musical Ian Bartholomew Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Imelda Staunton Won
Julia McKenzie Nominated
Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical Clive Carter Nominated
Best Costume Design Sue Blane Nominated

1999 London revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1999 Laurence Olivier Award Outstanding Musical Production Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Sophie Thompson Won

2002 Broadway revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2002 Tony Award Best Revival of a Musical Won
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical John McMartin Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Vanessa Williams Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Gregg Edelman Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Laura Benanti Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical James Lapine Nominated
Best Choreography John Carrafa Nominated
Best Scenic Design Douglas W. Schmidt Nominated
Best Costume Design Susan Hilferty Nominated
Best Lighting Design Brian MacDevitt Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Musical Won
Outstanding Actress in a Musical Laura Benanti Nominated
Vanessa Williams Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Gregg Edelman Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Kerry O'Malley Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Musical James Lapine Nominated
Outstanding Set Design Douglas W. Schmidt Won
Outstanding Costume Design Susan Hilferty Nominated
Outstanding Sound Design Dan Moses Schreier Won

2010 London revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2011 Laurence Olivier Award Best Musical Revival Won
Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical Michael Xavier Nominated

2012 New York revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2013 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Donna Murphy Nominated

2014 Australian production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2015 Helpmann Award Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical Lucy Maunder Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Stuart Maunder Nominated

2015 Off-Broadway production

Year Award Category Result
2015 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Musical Nominated
Drama League Award Outstanding Revival of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical Nominated


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