New York Revival of 'Into the Woods' to Coincide With Disney Release

11:58 AM PST 06/13/2014 by David Rooney
Meryl Streep as the Witch in Disney's "Into the Woods"

Roundabout Theatre Company will present an off-Broadway run of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical, opening a month after Rob Marshall's starry big-screen version

NEW YORK — In a sharp bit of marketing synchronicity, Roundabout Theatre Company has scheduled an off-Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's revisionist fairy-tale musical, Into the Woods, to open on the heels of Disney's big-screen adaptation.

Directed by Rob Marshall, the film opens Dec. 25, with a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Christine Baranski, James Corden and Tracey Ullman.

The Roundabout presentation is a scaled-down, unplugged adaptation of the show featuring just 10 actors and a piano. It was conceived by the young company Fiasco Theater and was first seen to great acclaim at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., in 2013.

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Reviewing that production in The New York Times, Charles Isherwood wrote: "Sometimes you can't perceive the true beauty of something until you've seen it naked. That observation probably doesn't apply to most human beings, especially those over 25. But it certainly holds true for a certain venerated, usually overdressed musical that has been kicking around for a quarter-century."

Directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, the Roundabout transfer will begin previews at the company's regular off-Broadway space, the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, on Dec. 18, with the official opening set for Jan. 22. A casting announcement is forthcoming for the limited engagement, which is scheduled to run through March 22.

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Into the Woods was first presented on Broadway in 1987, winning Tony awards for best book, score and lead actress Joanna Gleason. It returned in 2002 and won the Tony for best musical revival. The show was also staged in 2012 as part of the Public Theater's outdoor Shakespeare in the Park season, starring Amy Adams, Donna Murphy and 2014 Tony winner Jessie Mueller.

The musical reimagines and intertwines the plots of a number of classic Brothers Grimm tales around the story of a childless baker and his wife, who set out to reverse a spell placed upon on them by a witch. Corden and Blunt play the central couple in the Disney film, with Streep as the witch. Songs in the show include "Children Will Listen," "Giants in the Sky" and "No One Is Alone."

While Marshall is not involved with the upcoming stage production, he does have an association with Roundabout as co-director, with Sam Mendes, of the company's landmark 1998 Broadway revival of Cabaret. That production is currently running in a return engagement at Studio 54, starring Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams.

Roundabout has a long relationship with Sondheim, having produced revivals of his musicals Company, Follies, Assassins, Pacific Overtures and Sunday in the Park with George, as well as the 2010 revue Sondheim on Sondheim. That same year, the company also renamed one of its Broadway venues, the former Henry Miller's Theatre, now known as the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

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