Into the Woods

"I wish..."

Remember that one? It's the first song that launches this perennial stage musical. I have seen it numerous times, most recently a spectacular version in Ashland, Oregon, staged at the Shakespearean Festival.

Now it passes into the capable hands of Rob Marshall ("Chicago") who is someone we can trust with a well-loved musical. He did it right! The first act evokes familiar childhood stories, "Little Red Riding Hood," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Cinderella," and "Rapunzel," with The Baker and His Wife woven in for continuity. It's constructed as a sort of scavenger hunt. Of course that's the part where they all live "happily ever after." The next section is what happens AFTER the "happily ever after." (Composer Stephen Sondheim MUST be in therapy!)

A stage musical this well known draws out musical theater fans. It was fun to hear the screening audience applaud after a song, much like we would do in "live" theater. The actors not only articulated like stage actors, the sound engineering is terrific! No murmuring, no whispers and no missed dialogue. Whew! This is important because much of the music contains witty lyrics.

Here is part of this huge, capable cast:
  • Lilla Crawford (TV Host) Red Riding Hood skips happily into the woods to Grandmother's house but she's a little bit scared.
  • Johnny Depp ("Lucky Them") The Wolf teaches Red Riding Hood a valuable lesson when he finds her in the woods. "Hello, little girl!"
  • Anna Kendrick ("Pitch Perfect") Cinderella will be just fine, if the birds keep helping her.
  • Christine Baranski ("The Good Wife") Cinderella's Stepmother will go to any lengths to find the perfect husband...for her less- than-perfect daughters.
  • Chris Pine ("Star Trek") Cinderella's Prince is a charming fellow.... He has my favorite punch line.
  • Meryl Streep ("August: Osage County") The Witch is packing a lot of malice and in her mind it's justified. It's not HER fault!
  • Mackenzie Mauzy (Lots of TV) Lonely Rapunzel knows that she wants... something ...and it isn't just visits from her mother, the Witch, so she sings a haunting melody.
  • Billy Magnussen ("Boardwalk Empire") Rapunzel's Prince is in agony when the one thing he wants is the thing he can't have.
  • James Corden ("Begin Again") The Baker wants a son...period! But he's not sure how to be a father. He's not good; he's not bad; he's just nice.
  • Emily Blunt ("Edge of Tomorrow") The Baker's Wife can't understand why she has never had a baby, so she believes The Witch's story. It takes two....
  • Daniel Huttlestone (Gavroche in "Les Miserables") is Jack, who traded his beloved Milky White for a handful of beans.
  • Tracey Ullman ("How I Met Your Mother") Jack's Mother is at her wit's end trying to raise such a simple boy.
This two-hour, PG-rated collaboration between Disney, Lucamar and Marc Platt Productions depicts fairy tales, so expect some computer generated imaging but no sweaty bodies or profanity. Each actor has his or her moment in the spotlight and each one shines! It would be impossible to pick a favorite actor, scene, song or situation, although Chris Pine and Emily Blunt are perfectly cast! ...and that waterfall bit is delicious.... ...and Wyatt Smith's editing for "It's Your Fault" is lickety-split... and... Stop me or I'll go on and on and on...

I like the message, "Be careful what you wish for..."
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I know you'll enjoy this trailer:
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