Starting with the words "Once Upon a Time," the Narrator introduces four characters who each have a wish: Cinderella, the daughter of a wealthy man who has been reduced by her wicked stepmother and stepsisters into becoming their skivvy, wishes to attend the King's festival; Jack, a simple poor boy, wishes that his cow, Milky White, would give milk; and a Baker and his Wife wish they could have a child.
While Little Red Ridinghood wishes for bread from the Baker to take to her grandmother's house, which they reluctantly give, Jack's weary mother, who wishes for gold, nags him into selling the cow, and Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters Florinda and Lucinda tease her about wanting to attend the King's festival.
The Baker's neighbor, an ugly old witch, reveals that the source of the couple's infertility is a curse she placed on the Baker's line after catching the Baker's father in her garden stealing vegetables, including six "magic" beans. In addition to the curse, the Witch took the Baker's father's newborn child Rapunzel. She explains the curse will be lifted if the Baker and his Wife can find the four ingredients that the Witch needs for a certain potion; "the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold," all before the chime of midnight in three days' time. All begin their journeys into the woods — Jack goes to the market to sell his beloved pet Milky White, Cinderella's family goes to the Festival while Cinderella goes to her mother's grave to ask for guidance, Little Red goes to her grandmother's house, and the Baker, refusing his wife's help, goes to find the ingredients ("Prologue").
Cinderella visits her mother's grave and receives a beautiful gown and golden slippers from her mother's spirit ("Cinderella at the Grave"). Jack encounters a Mysterious Man who mocks him for trying to sell his cow for more than a "sack of beans" and then vanishes. Little Red Ridinghood meets a hungry Wolf who convinces her to take a detour on her way to Granny's ("Hello, Little Girl"). The Baker sees Little Red Ridinghood in the woods, and when the Witch appears, screaming at him to get the red cape, he is so frightened that he forgets the ingredients he needs. Luckily his wife, who followed him into the forest, reminds him. They are squabbling over her presence when they come across Jack with Milky White. Not having the money necessary to buy the cow, they convince Jack that the beans the Baker has found in his father's old hunting jacket are magic and buy the cow for five of them. Jack bids a tearful goodbye to his cow ("I Guess This Is Goodbye"), and the Baker orders his wife to return to the village with the cow. He has qualms about being so dishonest, but his wife reasons that the chance to have a child justifies their trickery ("Maybe They're Magic").
The Witch has raised Rapunzel as her own daughter, keeping her locked away from the world in a tall tower in the middle of the woods, accessible only by climbing Rapunzel's long, golden hair ("Our Little World"). However, on this day a handsome prince spies the beautiful Rapunzel and resolves to climb the tower himself. In another part of the wood, the Baker has tracked down Little Red Ridinghood. Following the Witch's advice, he attempts to simply steal the red cape, but her ensuing temper tantrum guilts him into returning it. When Little Red Ridinghood arrives at her grandmother's house, she is swallowed by the Wolf. The Baker, in pursuit of the cape, slays the Wolf, pulling Little Red Ridinghood and her grandmother from the beast's innards. Little Red Riding hood rewards him with the red cape, reflecting on her new experiences ("I Know Things Now"). Meanwhile, Jack's mother angrily tosses the beans aside, which end up growing into an enormous stalk overnight, and sends her son to bed without supper. As Cinderella flees the Festival, pursued by another handsome prince and his steward, the Wife helps her hide and quizzes Cinderella about the ball. Cinderella explains that it was a nice ball ("A Very Nice Prince") but seems fairly ambivalent about the experience. As a giant beanstalk begins to sprout from the ground next to Jack's cottage, the Baker's Wife spots Cinderella's pure gold slippers. She tries to chase after Cinderella but inadvertently allows Milky White to run off, leaving the Baker's Wife without the slippers or the cow. The characters each state morals and credos as the first midnight chimes ("First Midnight") and they continue their journeys through the woods.
The next morning, Jack describes his thrilling adventure after he returns from climbing the beanstalk and finding a castle of two married giants, whom he robbed unnoticed ("Giants in the Sky"). He gives the Baker five gold pieces he stole from the giants to buy back his cow. When the Baker hesitates, Jack climbs back up the beanstalk to find more. The Mysterious Man emerges and taunts the Baker, stealing the money. The Baker's Wife confesses she has lost the cow, and she and the Baker split up to look for it. Cinderella's Prince and Rapunzel's Prince, who are brothers, meet and compare the misery of their newfound and unobtainable loves ("Agony"). The Baker's Wife, who is eavesdropping, takes note when Rapunzel's prince mentions that he is in love with a girl in a tower with hair "as yellow as corn." The Baker's Wife fools Rapunzel into letting down her hair by telling her that she is her prince and pulls out a piece of it. Meanwhile, The Mysterious Man gives Milky White back to the Baker.
The Baker's Wife and Cinderella meet again, and the Baker's Wife makes a desperate grab for her shoes, almost succeeding before Cinderella flees. The Baker and his wife reunite, now with three of the four items. The Baker admits that they will have to work together to fulfill the quest ("It Takes Two"). Jack arrives with a hen that lays golden eggs and attempts to buy Milky White back, but the cow suddenly keels over dead as midnight chimes. Again, the characters exchange morals ("Second Midnight"). The Witch discovers that the Prince has been visiting Rapunzel and begs Rapunzel to stay with her so she can protect her from the outside world ("Stay with Me"). When Rapunzel refuses, the Witch angrily cuts off Rapunzel's hair and banishes her to a desert. The Mysterious Man gives the Baker the money to buy another cow. Jack encounters Little Red Ridinghood, who is now sporting a wolf skin cape and a knife for protection, and tries to impress her by telling her about the kingdom of the Giant. When she refuses to believe him, he is goaded into returning once again to the Giant's home to steal a magic harp.
Cinderella, returning from the last night of the festival, describes how the Prince had spread pitch on the stairs to prevent her from escaping. Caught between wanting to escape and wanting to stay, she eventually resolves to let the Prince decide, leaving him one of her slippers as a clue to her identity ("On the Steps of the Palace"). The Baker's Wife frantically tries to convince her to give up her other shoe, offering her the sixth magic bean in exchange for it. Cinderella throws the bean aside, but trades shoes with the Baker's Wife and flees, while unbeknownst to anyone a second beanstalk starts to grow. The Baker arrives with another cow; they now have all four items. The Prince's Steward grabs the slipper from the Baker's Wife, and they are fighting over it when a great crash is heard and Jack's mother runs in to report that a Giant seeking revenge from Jack for stealing his magic harp has fallen from the first beanstalk when Jack chopped it and is dead in her backyard. The Prince, more concerned with finding Cinderella, waves her off and departs with one of the slippers, giving the other to the Baker and his wife. Jack, to the relief of his mother, returns with the magic harp. The Witch discovers that the new cow is not pure white; it is covered with flour. However, the Witch is able to bring Milky White back to life and instructs the Baker and his Wife to feed the items to her. Jack tries to milk her, but no milk comes. The Baker's Wife admits that the hair is Rapunzel's, and the Witch furiously explains that the magic will not work because the Witch has already touched Rapunzel's hair, which is also why she had asked the Baker and his Wife to get the objects for her: she's not allowed to touch any of the objects. The Mysterious Man tells the Baker to feed the hair-like corn silk to the cow. Now Milky White gives milk which is the potion. The Witch reveals that the Mysterious Man is the Baker's father. The Witch drinks the potion, and suddenly the Mysterious Man falls dead, his reparation complete, the curse is broken, and the Witch is transformed into a beautiful young woman, reversing the effects of the curse of ugliness by which she was punished by her mother, because the Baker's father stole the beans from her, regaining her youth and beauty.
Cinderella's Prince searches for the girl whose foot fits the slipper; the stepsisters try but can only get it on by cutting off parts of their feet ("Careful My Toe"). Cinderella appears, her foot fits the slipper, and she becomes the Prince's bride. Rapunzel has borne twins in the desert where her Prince finds her. The Witch attempts to curse the couple, only to find that though she gained her youth and beauty, her powers have been lost. At Cinderella's wedding to the Prince, Florinda and Lucinda are blinded by birds as they try to win Cinderella's favor. Everyone but the Witch and the stepsisters congratulate themselves on being able to live happily "Ever After," though they fail to notice another beanstalk growing sky-high...
The Narrator introduces the action again: "Once Upon a Time...Later." All the characters seem happy but are still wishing: The Baker and his Wife have their precious baby boy, but wish for more room and bicker over the Baker's unwillingness to hold his child; Jack and his mother are rich and well-fed, but Jack misses his kingdom in the sky; Cinderella is living with her Prince Charming in the Palace, but is getting bored ("So Happy").
Suddenly, everyone is knocked over by a loud crash, and enormous footprints from a Giant have destroyed the Witch's garden, sparing only a few beans. The Baker and his Wife decide that they must tell the Royal Family, and the Baker travels to the palace. His news is ignored by the Prince's Steward, and also by Jack's Mother when he stops at her house to ask for Jack's aid. When he returns home, Little Red Ridinghood arrives on her way to Granny's: her house has been destroyed and her mother is missing. The Baker and his Wife decide to escort her. Meanwhile, Jack decides that he must slay the Giant and Cinderella learns from her bird friends that her mother's grave was disturbed and decides to investigate, dressed in her old clothes. Once again, everyone heads Into the Woods, but this time the mood is somber and the birds have stopped singing ("Into the Woods" Reprise).
While everyone else is drawn back into the woods, Rapunzel has fled there in a hysterical fit, her treatment at the hands of the Witch having driven her into madness. Her Prince has followed her, but when he encounters his brother they each confess they have another reason for their presence in the woods. They have grown bored and frustrated with their marriages and now lust after two beautiful women asleep in the woods - Snow White and Sleeping Beauty ("Agony" Reprise).
The Baker, his Wife, and Little Red Ridinghood get lost in the woods and find Cinderella's family and the Steward, who reveal that the castle was set upon by the Giant. The Witch arrives as well, bringing news that the Giant has destroyed the village and the Baker's house. Suddenly, thunderous footsteps are heard and the Giant appears. To the shock of all, this Giant is a woman who has come from the second beanstalk and is the widow of the Giant that Jack killed by chopping down the beanstalk. Her booming voice proclaims that she wants Jack's blood in revenge. To satisfy the Giantess, the group realizes they must give her someone, but are unable to decide on whom until they realize that the Narrator is still commenting on the actions from the sidelines. Everyone offers her the narrator as a sacrifice, but he convinces them how lost they would be without him. Nevertheless, the Witch throws him into the Giantess's arms and he is killed upon being dropped. Jack's mother finds the group and aggressively defends her son, angering the Giantess, and the Steward clubs Jack's mother to quiet her, inadvertently killing her. As the Giantess leaves to search for Jack, Rapunzel runs into her path and is trampled, to the horror of the Witch and her Prince ("Witch's Lament").
The Royal Family continue on their way, fleeing to a hidden Kingdom despite the Baker's pleas for them to stay and fight the Giant. The Witch declares she will find Jack and sacrifice him to the Giant, and the Baker and his Wife decide they must find him first and split up to search. The Baker's Wife meets Cinderella's Prince, and he easily seduces the Wife ("Any Moment"). Meanwhile, the Baker discovers Cinderella at her mother's destroyed grave and convinces her to join their group for safety. The Prince, satisfied, leaves the Baker's Wife with a few platitudes, and she realizes her error and decides to return to her happy life with the Baker and their son ("Moments in the Woods"). However, she has lost her way, stumbles into the path of the Giant, and is consequently killed by a falling tree.
The Baker, Little Red, and Cinderella await the return of the Baker's Wife when the Witch drags in Jack, whom she found weeping over the Baker's Wife's body. The Baker, grief-stricken when he learns of his wife's death, unwittingly agrees to give Jack to the Giantess, causing an argument. The characters first blame each other for their predicament, until finally they all decide to blame the Witch for growing the beans in the first place ("Your Fault"). Disgusted and fed up, the Witch curses and scolds them for their inability to accept their own individual responsibility and throws away the rest of her magic beans, reactivating her mother's curse and making her vanish ("Last Midnight").
The grieving Baker flees, but is visited by his father's spirit who convinces him to face his responsibilities ("No More"). The Baker returns and helps plan killing the Giantess, using Cinderella's bird friends to peck out the Giant's eyes at an area smeared with pitch, where Jack and the Baker can finally deliver a fatal blow. Cinderella stays behind to protect the Baker's child and when her Prince passes by, he nearly fails to recognize her. She confronts him, having learned of his infidelity from her birds and he explains his feelings of unfulfillment and his reasons for seducing another woman. She asks him to go, and he sorrowfully leaves.
Little Red returns with the news that her grandmother has been killed by the Giantess. Meanwhile, the Baker tells Jack that his mother is dead. Jack vows to kill the steward in revenge until the Baker convinces him that killing the steward will not benefit anyone. Cinderella comforts Little Red and tries to answer her qualms that killing the Giant makes them no better than she is, while the Baker explains to Jack that everyone is responsible for the choices they make, good or bad ("No One Is Alone").
The four remaining characters slay the Giant and the deceased characters now including the Royal Family (who have lost their way and starved to death in the woods) and the Princes (who have their new paramours, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, on their arms) return to share one last set of morals with the audience. The survivors resolve to band together and rebuild. The spirit of the Baker's Wife appears to comfort her mourning husband advising her husband to tell their child their story. The Baker begins to tell the story using the same words as the narrator did at the beginning of the play as the Witch appears with the final moral: "Careful the things you say, Children Will Listen." All join in on a last reprise of the title song, surmising that we all must venture into the Woods while remembering the choices we've made and learning from each endeavor we come across ("Finale"). As the characters conclude the song singing, "Into the woods, and out of the woods and happily ever after", Cinderella closes the show with one last "I wish..."
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. 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, who played the Narrator and Mysterious Man. 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, Rapunzel being played by Pamela Winslow.
The show underwent much evolution, but the most notable change was the addition of the song "No One Is Alone" in the middle of the run.
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. The Witch was then played by: Betsy Joslyn (from March 30, 1988);Phylicia Rashad (from April 14, 1988); Betsy Joslyn (from July 5, 1988); Nancy Dussault (from December 13, 1988); and Ellen Foley (from August 1, 1989 until the closing).
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) and Kay McClelland, Lauren Mitchell, Cynthia Sikes and Mary Gordon Murray as the Baker's Wife.
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.
Tenth Anniversary benefit performances were held on November 9, 1997 at The Broadway Theatre (New York), with most of original cast. Original cast understudies Chuck Wagner and Jeff Blumenkrantz played Cinderella's Prince/Wolf and The Steward in place of Robert Westenburg and Philip Hoffmann and 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. The same group presented this discussion/concert on June 21, 2015 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City.
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 played cities around the country, such as Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. 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."
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 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. 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.
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. 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.
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, which later ran on Broadway.
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 L. Williams as the Witch, John McMartin as the Narrator, 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. 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 "The Last Midnight," now sung by the Witch as a menacing lullaby to the Baker's baby.
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. This Broadway revival wardrobe is on display at the Costume World in South Florida.
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.
The production completey sold out three weeks before opening. As this was an 'Opera' production, the show and its performers were overlooked for the 'Musical' nominations in the 2008 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.
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. 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 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." The New York Times reviewer commented: "The natural environment makes for something genuinely haunting and mysterious as night falls on the audience..." 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 and released for public download through Digital Theatre, an online video production company.
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. 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. 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." 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. In January 2013, it was announced that the production will not transfer to Broadway due to scheduling conflicts.1993 Sydney Theatre Company production
This production played 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, Sharon Millerchip, Pippa Grandison, Simon Chilvers and DJ Foster.1994 Watershed Theatre production
This production played from 18 November 1993 to 23 December 1993 at the Watershed Theatre, Auckland. It starred Suzanne Lee, Kevin Smith, Miranda Harcourt, and Sophia Hawthorne1998 Melbourne Theatre Company production
This production 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, Anthony Weigh, Tamsin Carroll and Robert Grubb.2003 Finland production, Pimeä Metsä (Dark Forest)
This production played at the Turun kaupunginteatteri, Turku. It starred Sinikka Sokka (Witch), Jaana Järvinen (Cinderella's mother), Anu Hälvä (Cinderella), Kirsi Tarvainen (baker's wife), Jukka Aaltonen (Baker), Mika Kujala (Wolf/Prince),Riitta Salminen (Little Red Ridinghood) and Juha-Pekka Mikkola (Jack). Translated by Mikko Koivusalo. Directed by Tiina Brännare.2004 Japan production
This production played in all over Japan. The cast included Marie Suwa as The Witch, Kosakai Kazuki as The Baker, Atsuko Takahata as The Baker's Wife, Sylvia Grab as Cinderella, SAYAKA (a.k.a. Sayaka Kanda) as Little Red Ridinghood, Ryuji Kamiyama as Jack, Yoshioka Satoko as Rapunzel, Takahiro Fujimoto as Cinderella's Prince/The Wolf, Yumiko Fujita as Jack's Mother and Yuji Hirota as Rapunzel's Prince.2006 Japan production
This production played in all over Japan, once again. The cast included Marie Suwa as The Witch, Kosakai Kazuki as The Baker, Atsuko Takahata as The Baker's Wife, Sylvia Grab as Cinderella, Seira Miyamoto as Little Red Ridinghood, Hiroshi Yazaki as Jack, Kumiko Hayakawa as Rapunzel, Takahiro Fujimoto as Cinderella's Prince/The Wolf, Amachi Fusako as Jack's Mother and Yuji Hirota as Rapunzel's Prince2007 Barcelona production
Boscos endins was the Catalan adaptation by Joan Vives with the collaboration of Joan Lluís Bozzo. It was first presented by the Theatre Company Dagoll Dagom in Girona at the Festival Temporada Alta on November 22, 2007, and in January it was held at Teatre Victòria, in Avinguda del Paral·lel, Barcelona, SpainSignature Theatre (Arlington, VA), 2007
The musical was the first production in the Signature Theatre's new venue, opening in January 2007.2009/10 London Production
In December 2009 the show was presented at the Bloomsbury Theatre London by the UCLU Musical Theatre Society in a brand new production. Produced by Alicia Bennett and directed by Dom O'Hanlon the show was personally supported by Stephen Sondheim and praised for its new interpretation. The production was selected to be performed as part of the Sunday Times National Student Drama Festival 2010 in Scarborough, featuring the original cast and orchestra at the Spa Theatre, Scarborough in April 2010.2010 Japan production
This production played in all over Japan, once again. The cast included Naoko Yamazaki as The Witch, Kenji Yokozawa as The Baker, Sayaka Okamura as The Baker's Wife, RiRiKA as Cinderella, Mari Okonogi as Little Red Ridinghood, Tsuyoshi Matsubara as Jack, Anada Yuri as Rapunzel, Shinomiya Takahisa as Cinderella's Prince/The Wolf, Ikuyo Honda as Jack's Mother and Hiroaki Shimizu as Rapunzel's Prince2011 Singapore production
The 2011 Singapore production presented by Dream Academy ran from 29 July to 7 August 2011. Directed by Glen Goei, it featured Ria Jones (Witch), Adrian Pang (Baker), Selena Tan (Baker's Wife), Sebastian Tan (Jack), Emma Yong (Cinderella), Denise Tan (Little Red Ridinghood) and Lim Kay Siu (narrator)2011 Santa Ana production
The Mysterium Theater presented the production directed by Marla Ladd ran from August 18 to September 24.2012 Baltimore and Connecticut production
Directed by Mark Lamos, Center Stage (in a co-production with Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut) in Baltimore, Maryland presented Into the Woods, running from March 7 to April 15, 2012. The cast included Danielle Ferland, Broadway's original Little Red Ridinghood, as the Baker's wife, Jeffry Denman as the Narrator, Jenny Latimer as Cinderella, Justin Scott Brown as Jack, Erik Liberman as the Baker, Dana Steingold as Little Red Ridinghood, Nik Walker as Wolf/Cinderella's Prince, and Lauren Kennedy as the Witch. The production transferred to Westport Country Playhouse for a run lasting from May 1 to May 25, 2012.2013 Puerto Rican production
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. Directed by Edgar García Rivera, it starred: Víctor Santiago (Baker), Ana Isabelle (Baker's Wife), Lourdes Robles (Witch), Julio Enrique Court (Narrator/Mysterious Man), Xavier Rivera (Jack), Ulises de Orduna (Wolf), Angeliz Nieves (Little Red Ridinghood), Daisy Maeso (Cinderella), Armando Vegerano (Cinderella's Prince), Sara García (Jack's mother), Kedward Avilés (Steward).2014 Paris production
Directed by Lee Blakeley. Musical direction by David Charles Abell. April 1–12, 2014 at Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris. It featured Kimy McLaren (Cinderella), Leslie Clack (The Narrator), Nicholas Garrett (The Baker), Beverley Klein (The Witch), Pascal Charbonneau (Jack), Damian Thantrey (Cinderella's Prince), David Curry (Rapunzel's Prince), Francesca Jackson (Little Red Ridinghood), Rebecca de Pont Davies (Jack's Mother), Louise Adler (Rapunzel).2014 Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, Oregon) production
Directed by Amanda Dehnert, costume design by Linda Roethke, and scenic design by Rachel Hauck, the show ran from June 4, 2014 – October 11, 2014 with Miriam A. Laube as the Witch, Anthony Heald as the Narrator and Mysterious Stranger, Javier Muňoz as the Baker, Rachael Warren as the Baker’s Wife, Jennie Greenberry as Cinderella, Kjerstine Rose Anderson as Little Red Ridinghood, Miles Fletcher as Jack, Catherine E. Couson as Milky White, Little Red Ridinghood’s Granny, Giantess, and Cinderella’s Stepmother, Jeremy Peter Johnson as Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf (vocals), Howie Seago as the Wolf (sign language), John Tufts as Rapunzel’s Prince, Royer Bockus as Rapunzel, Robin Goodrin Nordli as Jack’s Mother, Robert Vincent Frank as Cinderella’s Father, Katie Bradley as Florinda and Sleeping Beauty, Christiana Clark as Lucinda and Snow White, and David Kelly as the Steward.2014 San Francisco production
San Francisco Playhouse presented Into the Woods in from June–September 2014. The musical was directed by Susi Damilano and ran for 80 performances.2014 PlayMakers Repertory Company production
PlayMakers Repertory Company presented Into the Woods from November 1, 2014 to December 7, 2014. It was directed by Joseph Haj.2014 Australian Production
Directed by Stuart Maunder and musical direction by Benjamin Northey, the Victorian Opera production at the Melbourne Arts Centre ran from 19–26 July and picked up multiple Helpmann Award nominations. The sold-out show featured the Victorian Orchestra and starred David Harris as The Baker, Lucy Maunder as Cinderella, Rowan Witt as Jack, Josie Lane as Little Red Ridinghood, Queenie van de Zandt as the Witch, and Christina O'Neill as The Baker's Wife.2015 Off-Broadway production
The Roundabout Theatre production, directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, began performances Off-Broadway on December 19, 2014 and officially opened on January 22, 2015, at the Laura Pels Theatre. 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. This new version is completely minimalistically reimagined by the Fiasco Theater Company. This production featured only ten actors and one piano accompanist, performed as an ensemble effort. Almost all the actors played multiple roles, and the set consists of only one upright piano, a backdrop of giant piano strings, and various common household objects used in different ways to represent certain plot elements. The director, Noah Brody, is featured as Lucinda / the Wolf / Cinderella's Prince. The rest of the cast featured Jennifer Mudge as the Witch, Ben Steinfeld as the Baker, Jessie Austrian as the Baker's Wife, Claire Karpen as Cinderella / Granny, Patrick Mulryan as Jack / the Steward, Liz Hayes as the Stepmother / Jacks Mother, Andy Grotelueschen as Florinda / Rapunzel's Prince, Emily Young as Little Red Ridinghood / Rapunzel, and Paul L. Coffey as the Mysterious Man. Accompanying them all was Matt Castle as pianist/music director, who occasionally took part in the cast. The roles of the Narrator, Cinderella's Mother, and the Giant were ensemble efforts.2015 DreamCatcher Theatre production
The DreamCatcher Theatre production, directed by Justin Fortunato, opened in January 2015 and played a sold out run at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Florida. The production gained national attention before it opened due to its groundbreaking blind casting of the show; most notably, that of Tituss Burgess as the first male actor to play the female role of The Witch. The cast included Arielle Jacobs (The Bakers Wife), J.J. Caruncho (The Baker), Annemarie Rosano (Cinderella), Magan Dee Yantko (Little Red), Bruno Vida (Jack), Marina Pires (Rapunzel), Elizabeth Dimon (Granny/The Giant), Roland Rusinek (the Steward), Laura Hodos (Cinderella's Stepmother/The Witch understudy), Wayne LeGette (The Narrator/Mysterious Man), Justin John Moniz (Cinderella's Prince/The Wolf), Matthew Janisse (Rapunzel's Prince), Laura Turnbull (Jack's Mother), Jeni Hacker (Cinderella's mother), Cristina Flores and Elaine Flores as the wicked stepsisters Florinda and Lucinda, Kelsey Flynn (Snow White), and Annette Navarro as Sleeping Beauty.2015 Muny production
The musical had its first production at The Muny in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri lasting from July 21 through 28 2015. The cast included Heather Headley (Witch), Erin Dilly (Baker's Wife), Rob McClure (Baker), Ken Page (Narrator), Andrew Samonsky (Cinderella's Prince/Wolf), Elena Shaddow (Cinderella), Ryan Silverman (Rapunzel's Prince), Jason Gotay (Jack), Ellen Harvey (Cinderella's Stepmother), Sara Kapner (Little Red Ridinghood), Samantha Massell (Rapunzel), Michael McCormick (Mysterious Man/Cinderella's Father). Zoe Vonder Haar (Jack's Mother), Anna Blair (Granny/Cinderella's Mother), Jennifer Diamond (Florinda), Gary Glasgow (Steward), Maggie Lakis (Milky White) and April Strelinger (Lucinda).2016 Hart House Production
The Hart House Theatre production in Toronto, Ontario from January 15, 2016 to January 30, 2016. Directed By Jeremy Hutton, Musical Direction by Guistin MacLean, Set Design by Joe Pagnan, Costume Design by Michelle Tracey, Lighting Design by Simon Rossiter, and choreographed by Michele Shuster. The cast included Bradley Hoover (Narrator/Mysterious Man), Michelle Nash (Cinderella), Colin Asuncion (Jack), Erin Winsor (Jack’s Mother), Maksym Shkvorets (Milky White), James King (Baker), Amy Swift (Baker’s Wife), Jaymie Sampa (Cinderella’s Stepmother), Moulan Bourke (Florinda), Jayne Peters (Lucinda), Korin Thomas-Smith (Cinderella’s Father/Wolf), Sarite Harris (Little Red Ridinghood), Saphire Demitro (Witch), Rachel Wood (Cinderella’s Mother/Sleeping Beauty), Nevada Banks (Granny/Giant), Alexandra Reed (Rapunzel/Snow White), Hugh Ritchie (Cinderella’s Prince), Chiano Panth (Rapunzel’s Prince), Matt Lacas (Steward).2016 West Yorkshire Playhouse & Opera North Co-production
This production in collaboration with Opera North ran at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds from 2 June 2016 to 25 June 2016. Directed by James Brining with musical direction by Jim Holmes and design by Colin Richmond. The cast featured members of the Chorus of Opera North, including Claire Pascoe (Witch), Louise Collett (Baker's Wife), Dean Robinson (Baker), Jeremy Peaker (Mysterious Man), Nicholas Butterfield (Narrator), Gillene Butterfield (Cinderella), Ross McInroy (Cinderella's Prince), Nicholas Watts (Jack), Hazel Croft (Jack's Mother), Miranda Bevin (Stepmother), Garrick Forbes (Cinderella's Father), Cordelia Fish (Florinda), Anna Barry (Lucinda), David Llewellyn (Wolf), Helen Évora (Little Red Ridinghood), Amy Freston (Rapunzel), Warren Gillespie (Rapunzel's Prince), Gordon D Shaw (Steward) and Rachel J Mosley (Granny/Cinderella's Mother/Giant's Wife).
The principal original casts of notable stage productions of Into the Woods
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.
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. The film was released on December 25, 2014. It was a critical and commercial hit, grossing over $213 million worldwide. Streep was nominated for many accolades for her performance as the Witch, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
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, 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. 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." 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. 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. 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. 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.
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."