Stephen Sondheim’s dark take on classic fairy-tales, Into the Woods, has always been a favorite of your DT&D critics. We saw it when we were kids. We obsessively listened to the soundtrack in high school, hoping to get cast as Little Red (Brittany) or The Baker’s Wife (Katie). We even saw the 2014 movie version starring Meryl Streep as The Witch when it came out that Christmas. So when we heard that Fiasco Theater company’s pared down Broadway revival (that originated at Roundabout Theater) was touring to SHN’s Golden Gate theater, we knew we needed to see it for Drama Talk & Drinks.
Katie: Into the Woods has got to be my favorite musical of all time. It was the first musical I saw as a kid. It is the only musical I have ever acted in. It’s also just brilliantly written. It will always have a special place in my heart and can do no wrong.
Brittany: I love it too. It’s such a great musical. A quintessential Sondheim about how most people kind-of suck and life is messy. This show is so iconic, which means this company had a lot to live up to. I liked some of the decisions they made, it was very creative. But, there were a few places where the more pared down version didn’t quite live up to my idealized image of this show. Particularly in some of the big Witch finale scenes.
K: At first the stripped down -all the actors play multiple roles and instruments-format was a little hard for me too. I had to really let go of some of my expectations. At the same time seeing it re-imagined was refreshing. I felt like I was watching a group of the most talented people I could imagine suddenly say “hey let’s head down to the basement, grab some rope, a ladder, a sheet and some boxes and put on Into the Woods”. That freshness was neat.
B: I really liked some of the things they did with the music. I’m a total sucker for the actors playing the instruments, and having non-traditional instruments as part of the props and set. There was also just some cool new instrumentation, the almost folk covers of the songs, that was really beautiful. I didn’t miss the big orchestra.
B: Yes such a talented cast. They did some clever stuff with lesser characters that was fun too. I loved the new take on Milky White (Darick Pead)! In choosing to keep it simple and creative the actors were able to play a bit more, which added to the whimsy of the show. However they did lose some of the big magical finale moments that I expect of Into The Woods. I still really enjoyed it, I just love the original so much there were certain elements I missed.
The Verdict: Absolutely go see this show! It’s a creative take on a classic that you don’t want to miss. If you already love Into The Woods just remember to go in with an open mind. There will probably be some things about the original you miss, but this production makes up for it with a fresh new take that will surprise you.
The Drama Talk: Into the Woods is just a fantastic musical. Fiasco Theater company gives this show new life with their stripped-down fast-paced production. With a multi-talented cast, each of whom plays multiple roles and multiple instruments throughout the show, the company adeptly creates a whimsical story-time feeling that brings the audience into the creative process. While some of the Broadway special effects are missing, the freshness of this production invites new insights into this well loved classic.
The Drinks: After a show at the Golden Gate Theater it’s hard not to go to the Showdown. It’s right across the street from the theater and it’s the no nonsense, no frills, no $14 drinks sort of a bar that is nice to hit up for a nightcap after an expensive night at the theater.
Into The Woods runs through April 2nd at The Golden Gate Theatre. There are $35 both virtual and in-person rush tickets available. You can check-out the SHN website for rush instructions. Goldstar also currently has tickets for $40-70 (normally priced $60-$105).