“Into the Woods” for the Umpteenth Time
By Skip Sheffield
“Into the Woods” is not my favorite Stephen Sondheim musical. After about the tenth time of hearing the refrain “Into the Woods” repeated I get tired of it. I get it. All kinds of stuff happens in Grimm Fairy Tales’ weird woods.
On the other hand the movie version of “Into the Woods” has a killer cast; not the least of which is Meryl Streep at her witchiest. I could watch the many moods of Meryl all day long. She is clearly relishing playing the bad girl; the wicked witch.
On the other hand we have Johnny Depp, camping it up as the big, bad wolf. For one thing Depp is not big. And in his silly makeup he is about as threatening as a housecat.
The rest of the “Woods” is a mixed bag. I liked little Red Riding Hood, played by newcomer Lilla Crawford. I loved Anna Kendrick’s Cinderella, who figures in all the tales.
In the stage musical the Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) are central to both the comedy and the pathos of James Lapine’s script. To my mind Emily Blunt can do no wrong, and as the childless wife cursed by the Witch, she tugs at the heart strings.
Also recurring in the story is Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) of beanstalk and giant fame, and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy), who lets down her hair to let up her lover.“Into the Woods” is directed by Rob Marshall, who fared much better with the screen version of “Chicago.” In his defense “Woods” is a much more dense, complicated show. It looks amazing for the most part, but for me the definitive version stars one Bernadette Peters as the Witch and Joanna Gleason as the Baker's Wife.