It is always a treat to get to watch a recording of a treasured Broadway musical, especially when that particular show (or at least its cast) has long stopped performances. The recording of ‘Into the Woods’ presented here in a new blu ray release is the original broadway play (featuring original music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim) as filmed for TV way back in 1989 (it aired in 1991).
The plot of ‘Into the Woods’ combines a bunch of different fairytales together, including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstock, and more. The main story, however, follows a baker (Chip Zien) and his wife (Joanna Gleason), as they deal with the aftermath of a witch’s curse that rendered them unable to have children. The witch (Bernadette Peters) agrees to lift the curse if the couple can get her four items she needs for a potion. The adventure to get these items brings the baker and his wife face to face with a lot of familiar fairytale characters. Many of these characters have their own little subplots going on that add further depth and complexity to the plot.
This show is still enjoyable even though it definitely shows a bit of its age in the blu ray transfer. Viewers will immediately notice the somewhat fuzzy quality of the video that harkens back to filmed-for-TV origins. The soundtrack sounds fairly crisp, but it is not as snappy as something filmed in the digital age. This is an old recording (1989) of a live event meant to be shown on television. People looking for picture and sound that matches what you would see today will definitely be disappointed (though this is a somewhat unrealistic expectation).
‘Into the Woods’ is an entertaining and catchy Broadway production worth the experience offered from this new release. People excited about the upcoming Disney movie version of the show might appreciate the opportunity to see where the new iteration is coming from (though the Broadway version is likely a bit more risqué than the Disney movie will be).