Sondheim 1987 classic is one of his most intricate and yet accessable musicals, if only because we are familiar with most of the characters from our childhood fairy tales. What seems like a fairly straightforward story in Act 1, the weaving of a number of classic fairy tales through a story of a childless baker and his wife, becomes in Act 2 a much darker and ultimately poignant play with some salutory lesson on how sometimes wishing for things doesn't always bring happiness. While the soundtrack does not give the full story it does contain some of Sondheim must lyrical songs and some of his cleverest lyrics (listen to both version of Agony a few times!). Personal favourites among the songs are 'No More' and 'No One Is Alone' (probably because I got to sing both of them in an amateur production as The Baker), but most of the music is wonderful and easy to listen to. A number of reviewers have been annoyed by the American accents on the soundtrack. Personally I don't have any such problems with this and I don't think it takes from what is a superb soundtrack.
Just a quick comment to the reviewers who object to the American accents on this recording. Sondheim is American, and 'Broadway' is American. This is a Broadway cast recording of a Sondheim musical. How strage to object to something about this recording which is inherant to it's source! Can you imagine ojecting to the British accents in an RSC production of Hamlet? How bizarre! This is a brilliant recording of a brilliant show. If you prefer Andrew Lloyd-Weber, then you deserve him.
I took my daughter to see Into the Woods in Regents Park -- we were bowled over by the wit and the depth of Sondheim's lyrics and music. We rushed to buy this sound track. I chose it because it was a Broadway cast. The plot seems at first to be based on well-loved fairy tales brought to life and magically interwoven. But the second half comes along to overturn that magic: a giantess is let loose in the woods and destroys everything in her path, including several of the characters we have come to love from the first part. Sondheim shows us delight, then he snatches it away, and exposes us to death and despair. There is redemption at the end, but it is a chastened, diminished, sadly realistic hope.
Into The Woods is arguably Sondheim's most poignant and insightful musical, and certainly his most magical. This recording features many of the most accomplished and celebrated artists of modern musical theatre, all perfectly cast and delivering sensitive performances that communicate the heart of this story with finesse.
If you love shows with a keen understanding of human nature, presented through an innovative score, this recording is a must-have for your collection.
Into the Woods is Sondhiem's most unapriciated plays/musicals of all time. It has a cunning plot that twists and turns and does not fail to entertain. But we're not here to discuss the plot. We're here for Lapine's musical skill. As you are here on the UK version of Amazon, I can only say that firstly, you will be annoyed by the American accents!! I was, and still am, but you learn to cope with it. Secondly however, the main point, the music is a prime example of the Musicals atmosphere!! Ok, reasons for and against buying it: 1) You love the play, you've been in it, or seen it etc.. and so therefore it's a must for your collection, 2) As Soundtracks go it isn't amazing if you havn't seen the play, so my advice is see the show, NOW, before you buy it. 3)Hey, look at that wad of notes in your pocket, why not buy this CD, it's a prime example of a dark comic musical. The reason I like this so much is that I've starred in it as the wolf, and so I'm Biased. It is a good romp, but it does not live up to the playt itself. If you havn't seen the show itself, then save your money and go to the theatre, then come back and buy it,..... ........three times if needs be!!!
This is THE definitive cast recording of what has to be the best musical ever. "Into the Woods" has always been my favourite Sondheim - which is saying a lot. It moves seamlessly from comedy to lyricism, and its lyrics really work on so many different levels. The whole cast here is wonderful, and Bernadette Peters was born to play the witch. My personal favourite though is Joanna Gleason as the Baker's wife - a subtle and beautifully timed performance.
There are other excellent cast recordings - the original London cast with Imelda Staunton and Jacqui Dankworth was amazing. But this is the best!
This is one of those musicals that not that many people on this side of the Atlantic have heard of, and, when you initially hear what it's about, you tend to be dubious. That, at least, was my reaction when I volunteered to help out with an amateur production and was told what the show would be. Now, having been the assistant producer and as such both flogged tickets and sat through endless rehearsals, it's an amazing show with fabulous music. From the beautiful and poignant Act 2 Finale 'Children Will Listen' to the recurring theme track 'Into The Woods', which has a more upbeat tempo, this is a musical you will enter into with trepidation but, once into the songs and the story, will realise that had you passed it by, you would have regretted it.