21 Songs, 1 Hour, 10 Minutes


Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5

134 Ratings

134 Ratings

Oh, when it really ain't broke...

Marcus ,

I occasionally teach a high school class on Stephen Sondheim, and it begins with "Into the Woods". I am a tremendous admirer of the piece and the original version in which the cast created such memorable, fresh, and remarkable performances that the revival had two options: 1 - Recreate the original and risk becoming a caricature or imitation or 2 - Try to reinvent the piece with new interpretations on the lines and the songs. This revival chose road #2, and the problem is that the original interpretations and characters were so definitive that this revival becomes incredibly muddled and, well, ordinary in its endeavor to be different. Vanessa Williams is weak here because she never lets go of her personal essence for the sake of a character. In her endeavor not to sound silly or ridiculous as the Witch, she ends up sounding silly and ridiculous as herself - especially in the opening scene. (But hey, it was almost LuPone, so I guess we should be thankful) I have been an admirer of Gregg Edelman since "City of Angels", but Gregg, who let you say "You're travelin' so fleetly"? And Gregg, you need a singing partner in "Agony" who is worthy of singing with you. The Little Red is charming here, and is also played by a little girl. Her innocence and sweetness offer some beautiful recordings, but are inconsistent with the character. Jack's voice is nice, but it is not legitimate and it's a little strange. In fact, many of the leads and most of the ensemble have a bizarre weak quality to their voices which leaves the ensemble numbers kind of flat. Cinderella is excellent, and is the only one to hold her own against her counterpart in the original by creating something new, workable, and well performed. The Baker is fine, and his wife is a wonderful and sweet soprano. However, the urgency, subversiveness, and grit of Joanna Gleason's performance is not here and necessary for the character, I feel. I guess, on that note, I should say that this recording is fine, and that those who are a fan of the work will find things to love about it. It is worth having, but I guess for me, the glue that holds "Into the Woods" together is it's cleverness - and clever this ain't.

Hold out for the original.


I bought this recording of INTO THE WOODS in a moment of desperation, and I'm sorry I did, because it pales in comparison to the original (Broadway) cast recording, which is not currently available on iTunes. What this recording gains in sound quality it loses in everything from tone to diction to expressivity. It's a shame that such a consistently triumphant label as Nonesuch has been putting out these mediocre Sondheim performances, although I am sure that SWEENEY TODD will redeem them in early 2006.



I was very disappointed that this sounds nothing like the original Broadway cast! Plus, the cast seems to have mutilated Sondheim's true intention and unique rhythm. Geez, I spent $10 on crap! I'm sorry but I was really disappointed by this CD.



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