Many of you will be thinking "I've never heard of that musical before?" The truth is, not many people have. I was lucky enough to be introduced to this musical during my time at university. I was asked to be the musicial director for a production that the drama society was staging. The musical was 'Into the Woods'. With 'West Side Story' being one of my favourite musicals of all time, I had no idea what Sondheim had in store for me with this effort. I was to be pleasantly surprised.
The story of the musical follows much the same path as the music itself; both simplistic and complex at the same time. At times, you feel that the texture of the music is far too thin to support some of the musical numbers, but Sondheim has a way of making even the simplest of parts throughly enjoyable and engaging.
James Lapine must also be given a tremendous amount of credit for the simply astonishing way that he intergrates a number of different fairy tales in to one story. Whilst conveying a story with huge amounts of humour and character, he is also able to establish a serious undertone that gives the musical an educational value as well as an entertainment one.
And in this version, the star of the show is Bernadette Peters. The talent that this woman exudes is nothing short of miraculous. She is able to be vile and beautiful without losing any of the characters defining characteristics, and convincingly nails each of her challenging musical numbers with great ease and conviction.
The clinching point for me is that, even though the story is based and a number of different fairy tales, there is so much entertainment value for adults as well. I find it impossible to think that anyone who watches this production will be any less than spellbound by its brilliance.