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Into The Woods, Theatre Royal Bath: be careful what you wish for

“‘Horror! Shame! Disgrace!’ laughs Terry.” runs the programme note asking what co-directors Terry Gilliam and Leah Hausman want audiences to take away from Into The Woods in Bath. 

Mm. 

The cast of Into the Woods at Theatre Royal Bath. Photo: Marc Brenner

Some evenings at the theatre make an instant impact, others lurk in your unconscious and won’t go away.

As you may recall, last year the Old Vic cancelled Gilliam’s show following unrest (he’d made contentious comments about Netflix special by comedian Dave Chappelle and the #MeToo movement) about its original decision to programme the production. 

During the pandemic, Theatre Royal Bath agreed to re-home the production.

Terry Gilliam & Leah Hausman on stage with the cast of Into The Woods

In that context, this disquieting revival becomes a riposte. With a cast of 23, the macabre musical is almost too vast for Bath’s proscenium, but it wittily (and pertinently) blends the carnivalesque and the gothic.

Anyway, in the first half of co-director’s Gilliam’s and Hausman’s slippery production, a childless couple go on a quest to lift a curse placed by a witch (Nicola Hughes). We encounter as Red Ridinghood (Lauren Conroy), Cinderella (Audrey Brisson) Jack of the Beanstalk (Barney Wilkinson), Rapunzel (Maria Conneely) and of course the Baker (Rhashan Stone) and his wife (Alex Young)– all of whom seem emotionally damaged. And even The Mysterious Man (Julian Bleach) can only raise a snarl.

In the superior second half, an unforgiving giantess inflicts mayhem on the fairy-tale community, whose survivors realise self-discovery. There’s magic in the air around Young as the childless Baker’s Wife and superb Brisson as Cinderella – they are the key to what makes this evening so beguiling, I think. 

Into the Woods at Theatre Royal Bath. Photo: Marc Brenner

Interestingly, Sondheim saw the richly atmospheric designs before he died and is said to have wholly approved. This surreal staging ingeniously mashes up the vividly dark and the popular.

Ingenious use is made of designer Jon Bausor’s Victorian toy theatre creation: a sinister cuckoo sits above the curtain, a large chicken with “Made in China” on its thigh lays a golden egg, a massive pocket watch drops from the sky, counting down hours to undo the curse. 

Into the Woods at Theatre Royal Bath. Photo: Marc Brenner

Elsewhere, Will Duke’s opulent video designs compliment the storytelling effortlessly. The ensemble is drilled. The singing is good.

It’s a heady mix: political, playful and profound.

Gilliam and his co-director Hausman make us unsure if we are to care about the characters, or if it is all just for a laugh – there is a lot of mugging off – and this can occasionally be at the expense of the more melancholy numbers. 

Furthermore, too often this rollicking production mistakes the overwrought for genuine emotion. You never really emotionally connect with any of the material. Well, except for Milky White – Jack’s bug-eyed pantomime cow. 

Still, it’s a dreamlike evening defiantly served not just by its leads but the entire top-notch, shape-shifting ensemble and a small but perfectly formed 10-piece band.

Into the Woods at Theatre Royal Bath. Photo: Marc Brenner

So, transfer Into The Woods? Only if it comes with this warning out front: ‘be careful what you wish for’.  

Into The Woods runs until 10 September at Theatre Royal Bath. 

“Into the woods” will have a new Broadway cast recording

Into The Woods

Sean Patrick Flahaven, Chief Theatricals Executive for Concord, has announced that Concord Theatricals/Craft Recordings will release the cast recording of the critically-acclaimed Broadway revival of the New York City Center Encores production of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods in September on streaming and digital platforms worldwide. Physical release will be announced at a later time.

Into the Woods, the first Broadway show of the 2022/2023 season, opened to rave reviews on July 10 at the St. James Theatre. This production is produced by Jordan Roth, President of Jujamcyn Theaters, directed by Lear deBessonet (in her Broadway debut), music direction by Rob Berman with The Encores! Orchestra, and choreography by Lorin LatarroInto the Woods is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Sondheim.

Flahaven, who spent 25 years working with Sondheim in various musical capacities and has been a producer on dozens of cast albums, including 12 Grammy nominees, will produce the recording, with Berman as Co-Producer, Roth as Executive Producer, and deBessonet as Associate Producer.

Tickets are available via SeatGeek.com/into-the-woods.

Into the Woods stars Sara Bareilles as the Baker’s Wife, Brian d’Arcy James as the Baker, Tony Award® winner Patina Miller as the Witch, Phillipa Soo as Cinderella, Joshua Henry as Rapunzel’s Prince, Aymee Garcia as Jack’s Mother,  Ta’Nika Gibson as Lucinda, Annie Golden as Cinderella’s Mother/Grandmother/Giant’s Wife, Albert Guerzon as Cinderella’s Father, Brooke Ishibashi as Florinda, Kennedy Kanagawa as Milky White, David Patrick Kelly as the Narrator/Mysterious Man, Julia Lester as Little Red Riding Hood, Nancy Opel as Cinderella’s Stepmother, Cole Thompson as Jack, David Turner as the Steward, Alysia Velez as Rapunzel. With Delphi Borich, Felicia Curry, Jason Forbach, Alex Joseph Grayson, Cameron Johnson, Paul Kreppel, Mary Kate Moore, Diane Phelan, and Lucia Spina as understudies.

The Into the Woods creative team includes Tony Award winner David Rockwell (Scenic Design), Andrea Hood (Costume Design), Tyler Micoleau (Lighting Design), Tony Award winner Scott Lehrer & Alex Neumann (Co-Sound Designers), James Ortiz (Puppet Design), and Cookie Jordan (Hair, Wigs & Makeup Design). Casting is by Telsey & Co. with Production Supervision by Cody Renard RichardJustin Scribner will serve as the Production Stage Manager.

Into the Woods first premiered on Broadway in 1987, winning three Tony Awards including Best Score and Best Book. It has since been produced throughout the world and was adapted into a major motion picture in 2014. This production will mark its first time on Broadway in 20 years.

Into the Woods is produced by Jujamcyn Theaters; Jordan Roth; New York City Center; Daryl Roth; Hunter Arnold; Concord Theatricals; Nicole Eisenberg; Jessica R. Jenen; Michael Cassel Group; Kevin Ryan; ShowTown Productions; Armstrong, Gold & Ross; Nicole Kastrinos, Executive Producer. 

 “Into The Woods” announces additional casting

Into the woods

Jordan Roth, President of Jujamcyn Theaters, announced additional casting today for the hugely acclaimed and completely sold-out New York City Center Encores! production of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s beloved musical, Into the Woods, for the strictly limited, 8-week engagement on Broadway. Performances begin Tuesday, June 28 at the St. James Theatre, ahead of an official opening night on July 10. Into the Woods is directed by Lear deBessonet, music direction by Rob Berman with The Encores! Orchestra, and choreographed by Lorin Latarro. This production is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Sondheim.

Joining the cast are Nancy Opel as Cinderella’s Stepmother, Aymee Garcia as Jack’s Mother, Alysia Velez as Rapunzel, and Delphi BorichFelicia CurryAlexander Joseph GraysonPaul KreppelDiane Phelan, and Lucia Spina as understudies.

Tickets are available via SeatGeek.com/into-the-woods.

As previously announced, the star-studded cast will include  Sara Bareilles as the Baker’s Wife, Brian D’Arcy James as the Baker, Tony Award® winner Patina Miller as the Witch, Phillipa Soo as Cinderella, Tony Award winner Gavin Creel as the Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince, Joshua Henry as Rapunzel’s Prince, Ta’Nika Gibson as Lucinda, Annie Golden as Cinderella’s Mother/Grandmother/Giant’s Wife, Albert Guerzon as Cinderella’s Father, Brooke Ishibashi as Florinda, Kennedy Kanagawa as Milky White, David Patrick Kelly as the Narrator/Mysterious Man, Julia Lester as Little Red Riding Hood, Cole Thompson as Jack, David Turner as the Steward, Jason ForbachMary Kate Moore, and Cameron Johnson.

The Into the Woods creative team includes Tony Award winner David Rockwell (Scenic Design), Andrea Hood (Costume Design), Tyler Micoleau (Lighting Design), Tony Award winner Scott Lehrer & Alex Neumann (Co-Sound Designers), James Ortiz (Puppet Design), and Cookie Jordan (Hair, Wigs & Makeup Design). Casting is by Telsey & Co. with Production Supervision by Cody Renard RichardJustin Scribner will serve as the Production Stage Manager.

Into the Woods first premiered on Broadway in 1987, winning three Tony Awards including Best Score and Best Book. It has since been produced throughout the world and was adapted into a major motion picture in 2014. This production will mark its first time on Broadway in 20 years.

Into the Woods is produced by Jujamcyn Theaters; Jordan Roth; New York City Center; Daryl Roth; Hunter Arnold; Concord Theatricals; Nicole Eisenberg; Jessica R. Jenen; Michael Cassel Group; Kevin Ryan; ShowTown Productions; Armstrong, Gold & Ross; Nicole Kastrinos, Executive Producer.