Monday, July 11, 2022

Weekly Margin 2022, W29: Into the Woods

What: The Broadway transfer of the celebrated Encores! production of the beloved Sondheim/Lapine fairy tale mashup.
And? It's basically the same show I saw at Encores! in May, with some cast changes. And maybe it's on me for assuming that a Broadway transfer from a concert staging would also expand itself to be a full production, like Finian's Rainbow or Gypsy did, rather than pulling a Chicago. So since there's not much new for me to discuss, we'll just do some popcorn:
  • It's nice that the Encores! orchestra and Rob Berman got to come with the transfer, especially as this was Berman's final Encores! production.
  • I'm still disappointed there were no new choices made for this production. Yes, I loved it at Encores!, but I loved it for what it was: a well staged concert reading.
  • This is nowhere near the first time I've seen an actor go up during a Sondheim song, but it's the first time I've seen one resort to a "doo bee doo, la la" as he flailed through it (Gavin Creel eventually recovered the verse, with some help from Sara Bareilles, and the audience ate it up)
  • The "Dwarves/Dwarfs/Dwarfs" moment was just ... I was laughing for the next five minutes, it was so dumb and hilarious.
  • Relatedly, Joshua Henry (Rapunzel's Prince) should do more comedy.
  • Also relatedly, Joshua Henry should do more everything because he's so damn good I can't stand it.
  • Literally I grabbed my friend Beth's arm as she simultaneously grabbed my arm when he began to sing, it is RUDE how beautiful his voice is.
  • Brian d'Arcy James (Baker), also rude. Made me cry with his "No More."
  • Please tell me we're getting a cast album. I'm so tired of not getting cast albums with BDJ's voice on them.
  • Patina Miller (Witch) is fine but doesn't has as much vocal color or emotional texture as Heather Headley did.
  • This is such a minor nitpick, but if Cinderella's going to throw the sixth bean into the audience, wouldn't it be the most badass thing if Act One ended with a beanstalk climbing up in the audience too? Follow Cursed Child's example and send us into intermission freaking out!
  • I am quietly stoked to see Aymee Garcia, who used to understudy Ann Harada in Avenue Q, inherit Jack's Mother from Harada, and absolutely own the part. Nice to see an understudy make good.
  • Speaking of understudies making good, Cameron Johnson was on for Milky White, and was absolutely wonderful throughout.
  • Love to see Nancy Opel (Stepmother) but she is criminally underused for the talent and voice we know she has.
  • Phillipa Soo makes a three course meal out of Cinderella's midnight spills, and I fucking love it. A+ rule of three and escalation.
  • Weird weird choice for "Hello, Little Girl," where the Wolf has been desexualized and yet Little Red gets flirty toward the end with her "Goodbye, Mister Wolf," and y'all this has always been a pretty explicit predator (and pedo) narrative, and I'm not comfortable with any hint that the actual child is the sexual aggressor.
  • Julia Lester and Cole Thompson remain adorable, hilarious, and in great voice as Little Red and Jack.
  • Casting a tenor as Cinderella's Prince has rendered the vocals in the show, by and large, on the high end, with Joshua Henry's liquid baritone grounding us.
  • Spoiler: twins! Such a cute reveal.

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