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Into the Woods Musical

Updated on July 4, 2013

Go Into the Woods with This Sondheim Musical

Into the Woods is a Tony Award-winning musical with music and lyrics from Stephen Sondheim and written and directed by James Lapine.

Sondheim's elaborate musical score is the background for the story that intertwines the original Grimm fairy tales of Cinderella, Jack and the Magic Beanstalk, Little Red Ridinghood and Rapunzel as we follow these characters in search of their wishes.

What they discover in the woods is an important life lesson—the consequences of those wishes—and perhaps that they might have been better off not wishing them in the first place.

Take a trip with me into the woods and discover this unique musical.

Image from Into the Woods Cover, music available to download on Amazon.

Once Upon a Time ...

Image by Steren
Image by Steren

Twisted Branch by Steren

Discovering Into the Woods

We discovered Into the Woods, when it was presented as one of the play options for my daughters childrens' theater group to perform for the summer.

I knew the story involved darker fairy tales, so looked at the plot summary on Wikipedia before letting my daughters watch the DVD of the American Playhouse production. One thing that was clear is that the stories were based on the original Brothers Grimm tales with more more blood, mayhem, deception, killings and scary creatures.

After becoming familiar with the musical my daughters discovered reading the Once Upon a Time Book that some of the text from the Into the Woods play has been taken directly from the original Brothers Grimm Tales.

Some of the things she discovered were Cinderella's stepsisters getting their toe and heel cut off to fit into the shoe, Rapunzel's Prince gets blinded falling from her tower and Little Red Ridinghood and Granny getting swallowed by the wolf and then cut out by the huntsman.

I got them the Once Upon a Time book because we are also fans of the ABC show Once Upon a Time show, a television show based on the Brothers Grimm tales.

Into the Woods Jr. Book

Into the Woods - Darker Tales

The Broadway musical uses several of the Brothers Grimm's real fairy tales, the tales that are much more graphic, violent and often gruesome than the Disney version's we've grown up with and intersperses these stories with a new story about a Baker and his Wife and what they go through to start a family.

The Amazon review for the American Playhouse DVD version describes Into the Woods as:

  • Fractured fairy tales of a darker hue provide the remarkable context for Into the Woods, which deconstructs the Brothers Grimm by way of Rod Serling.
Another reviewer wrote this about the Into the Woods soundtrack, "It is a marvelous deconstruction of fairy tales and how the wishing and the getting is what really important, not obtaining it."

In these fractured fairy tales, Sondheim and Lupine weave many cleaver story twists, metaphors and meanings into this grown-up fairy tale that will leave you thinking about the importance of the journey, living in the moment and what goes into living happily ever after.

NOTE: Parents may want to familiarize themselves with the story plot, twists, death, deception, adultry and mayhem before deciding to let their children watch the play.

Watch Into the Woods

Into the Woods
Into the Woods

Watch Into the Woods from the 1991 American Playhouse televised broadcast with the original Broadway cast featuring Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason.

Joanna Gleason won the 1988 Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, Stephen Sondheim won the Best Original Score and James Lapine the Best Book of a Musical.


A New Into the Woods

Disney Goes Into the Woods

Disney is aiming for a Christmas Day premiere of its version of the Tony Award Winning Musical. Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep were the first two actors confirmed for this new version of Sondheim's play.

Depp is set to play the Wolf with an unknown Little Red Riding Hood and Streep, the Witch who is involved in stirring up a lot of mischief for the Baker (James Corden) and his Wife (Emily Blunt) and also plays a major role with Rapunzel (unknown). Tracey Ullman is in talks to play Jack and the Beanstalks Mother (she should be great!) and Daniel Huttlestone as Jack.

Other actors linked to this new version include Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Pine as the two handsome princes for Rapunzel and Cinderella (Anna Kendrick). Christine Baranski plays Cinderella's step mother.

It is going to be very interesting to follow the making of this film and then see Disney's take on the real Grimm Brother fairy tales, rather than the cleaner versions we've seen for years.

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Cast for Into the Woods

These are the people, so far, who have been linked to the Disney version of Into the Woods:

  1. The Baker - James Corden
  2. The Baker's Wife - Emily Blunt
  3. Jack in the Beanstalk - Daniel Huttlestone
  4. Jack's Mother - Tracey Ullman
  5. Cinderella - Anna Kendrick
  6. Cindrella's Step Mother - Christine Baranski
  7. The Princes - Chris Pine (Cinderella's) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Rapunzel's)
  8. The Wolf - Johnny Depp
  9. The Witch - Meryl Streep

Into the Woods We Go...

Image by Brenda Starr
Image by Brenda Starr

Dark Wooded Forest by Brenda Starr. Used under a Creative Commons License.

More on the Disney Version of Into the Woods

Articles about the latest revival of Into the Woods for Disney, as we discover the different cast members.

Available from Amazon
Available from Amazon

Into the Woods Synopsis

Into the Woods musical intertwines the original Grimm fairy tales of Cinderella, Jack and the Magic Beanstalk, Little Red Ridinghood and Rapunzel with the story of a Baker and his wife who want a child.

Through the 3 hour + musical we follow Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, Jack, Rapunzel and several Princes along with the Baker and his Wife on the paths that they take searching for their Happily Ever After. What they all discover, venturing into the woods, is that life may not always go the way we wished for or turn out to be quite so happy.

The first act is more lighthearted and focuses on the wishes made by Cinderella, Jack, Little Red Riding Hood and the Baker and his Wife as they all venture into the woods in search of their wishes.

Much of the first act is spent watching the Baker and his Wife go in search of "the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold" to make a magic potion that will help them have a child. The first act ends after everyone's wishes have come true. This is the act that is adapted into the Into the Woods Jr. version for Childrens' Theaters.

The second act soon becomes darker and much more somber. Some recommendations are that the second act may be too heavy for younger children (under six). In this act we take a look at what happens to our original characters now that they are living their "happily ever after." Cinderella, Jack and the Baker and his Wife are still wishing and enter into the woods again in search of what they are missing. The second act includes more mayhem, treachery, adultery and several deaths, but it also features many of the show stopping musical songs including "No More," "No One Is Alone," and "Children Will Listen."

My daughters were more disturbed by the Princes wishing for new Princesses (after they'd already gotten their first ones) than the deaths and mayhem, but the Princes' wandering eyes became a good teachable lesson about the boys and men they may date in the future.

Into the Woods Poster Print available on Amazon.

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Into the Woods - Video Clip

This clip from the 1988 Tony Awards features Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, Phylicia Rashad with the rest of the original cast of the Broadway production.

Into the Woods Videos

Into the Woods on YouTube

Clips from Into the Woods, the 1991 American Playhouse televised broadcast.

Venture into the Dark Woods

Image by Ashley
Image by Ashley

The Dark Woods by Ashley

Into the Woods Quotes

Quotes from Into the Woods

You can get an idea of the tone of Into the Woods based on some of the quotes that I pulled out as illustrations

The Woods are just Trees.

The Trees are just Wood.

Into the Woods Ensemble

Never can tell what lies ahead,

for all that I know she's already dead.

But into the woods!

Red Riding Hood

There's no possible way

To describe how you feel

When you're talking to your meal!


Worrying will do you no good. If he's safe, then he's safe.

And if he's been crushed...

well, there's nothing we can do about that, is there?

Cinderella's Prince

Wanting a ball is not wanting a prince.


No knot unties itself.

The Mysterious Man

And it came to pass all that seemed wrong was now right,

and those who deserved to

were certain to live a long and happy life.

Ever after.


Into the Woods Music

Music from Into the Woods

The song most recognized from Into the Woods is probably "Children Will Listen" which was made popular by Bernadette Peters. The song has also been recorded by Betty Buckley, Barbara Streisand and Mandy Patinkin.

Other recognizable songs from the play are "Last Midnight," "No One Is Alone," and "No More."

There are several different versions of the music from Into the Wood available for listening. The original Broadway Cast that features Bernadette Peters and Joanna Gleason was the one that we listened to first after watching the DVD.

There is also the London Cast version from 1991 and the Broadway revival of 2002 that featured Vanessa Williams as the witch.

Once we heard that my daughters' theater group would be doing Into the Woods as a summer production we started listening to the music. Initially listening to the rather complicated arrangements of different voices singing over each other at the same time was a bit challenging, but it wasn't too long before my daughters' both had the music down and were singing right along. The music gets stuck in your head.

Into the Woods London Cast Soundtrack available on Amazon.

Into the Woods Musical Numbers

The musical numbers from Into the Woods on the original Broadway Cast Recording include:

  1. Into the Woods (Prologue)
  2. Cinderella at the Grave
  3. Hello, Little Girl
  4. I Guess This Is Goodbye / Maybe They're Magic
  5. I Know Things Now
  6. A Very Nice Prince / First Midnight / Giants in the Sky
  7. Agony
  8. It Takes Two
  9. Stay With Me
  10. On the Steps of the Palace
  11. Ever After
  12. Act II Prologue: So Happy
  13. Agony (Reprise)
  14. Lament
  15. Any Moment / Moments in the Woods
  16. Your Fault / Last Midnight
  17. No More
  18. No One Is Alone

Into the Woods - London Cast

A clip from Into the Woods performed by the Original London Cast for the Wogan's TV show.

Into the Woods Music from the London Production

Into The Woods
Into The Woods

Download the music from the Original London production of Into the Woods.


Into the Woods Revival - Video Clips

A video clip from the 56th Annual Tony Awards in 2002 featuring the Broadway cast singing a melody of Into the Woods musical numbers.

Into the Woods Music Broadway Revival Cast

Into The Woods
Into The Woods

The music from the 2002 Broadway revival of Into the Woods that featured Vanessa L. Williams as the witch.

This production won the 2002 Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.


Into the Woods - NYU Steinhardt

Assorted clips from the NYU Steinhardt "Into the Woods" production in 2006

Into the Woods Soundtracks

Different versions of the Into the Woods Soundtracks.

Into The Woods
Into The Woods

The DVD of the original 1987 Broadway cast.

Into the Woods (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Into the Woods (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

MP3 downloads of the 1987 Original Broadway Cast


Haunted Trees in the Dark Woods

Image by Brenda Starr
Image by Brenda Starr

Trees in the Dark Woods by Brenda Starr

Into the Woods Jr.

Into the Woods Jr - A Modified Version

Since Into the Woods is a bit of a dark play, the Jr version has been toned down quite a bit and adapted into a more child-friendly version.

Most notable is that the second act is entirely gone and we noticed looking at the play that many of the questionable language and more morbid elements in the first act were sanitized and a less gruesome. For example, the Wolf's song and Little Red Ridinghood's songs are both shortened to remove references to being eaten by the wolf.

The Into the Woods junior show has parts for up to 21 different characters, so it is good for a medium sized production. In some productions several of the characters are even played by the same actor.

The original show has been shortened from 3+ hours to 60 to 80 minutes.

The musical score is still challenging, but the music has been transposed to make it easier for younger voices to sing the parts.

More information on Into the Wood Jr available at the Music Theater International website.

Into the Woods Jr. Productions on YouTube

Clips from different Into the Woods Jr. productions.

More about Into the Woods Jr.

To find out more about licensing Into the Woods Jr. for your theater production visit the Music Theatre International, who have been Licensing musical theater performance rights and materials to schools, community and professional theatres since 1952.

Into the Woods Books

Into the Woods Books

Into the Woods (TCG Edition)
Into the Woods (TCG Edition)

This book version of Into the Woods is often given as a gift to performers of the play.

Into the Woods
Into the Woods

An illustrated storybook on Into the Woods.


Into the Woods Musical Books & Prints

Into the Woods Edition: Vocal Selections
Into the Woods Edition: Vocal Selections

For those interested in singing the music, Vocal parts to Into the Woods.

Into The Woods Vocal Score
Into The Woods Vocal Score

The completed vocal score for Into the Woods.

Into the Woods Poster Broadway Theater Play 14x22 Bernadette Peters Joanna Gleason Chip Zien
Into the Woods Poster Broadway Theater Play 14x22 Bernadette Peters Joanna Gleason Chip Zien

A 14 by 22 inch poster featuring the Into the Woods Broadway theater version.


IWish ...

Into the Woods Posters

More Woods for you to venture into or decorate your walls.

Once Upon a Time: A Collection of Classic Fairy Tales

Once Upon a Time: A Collection of Classic Fairy Tales
Once Upon a Time: A Collection of Classic Fairy Tales

The Once Upon a Time books features a collection of the classic Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, which tend to be much more graphic in nature than the versions we have come to know from Disney.

My daughters discovered that some of the text from the Into the Woods play has been taken directly from the original Brothers Grimm Tales.


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Have you seen Sondheim's Into the Woods?

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    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @LadySnowStar: Thank you

    • LadySnowStar profile image

      LadySnowStar 4 years ago

      Wonderful lens! 'Into the Woods' is one of my favorite musicals.

    • cdevries profile image

      cdevries 5 years ago

      Nice Lens! I've seen Into the Woods and designed sets for it too. I like the show - I love twisted fairy tales and Sondheim - but I must admit I think there may be one too many storylines, so that it seems to go on just a bit too long. My favorite Sondheim so far is Sweeney Todd.

    • TenPoundTenor profile image

      TenPoundTenor 5 years ago

      I love this musical. I think Agony is my favorite song in it. Great lens.

    • Alethia LM profile image

      Alethia LM 5 years ago

      This is really cool! I've never much been into musicals but this one looks mighty interesting! Thanks for the awesome lens!

    • healthinfo48 profile image

      healthinfo48 5 years ago

      Beautifully written. Will have to see it sometime.

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 5 years ago from Gloucester

      My all-time favourite musical The Broadway cast was Brilliant. Love this musical, and love this lens. :)

    • profile image

      ernad18 5 years ago

      This is one of my all time favorites. It's so funny - smart funny - that it's addicting and the lines and scenes have such nuances that you can watch it over and over and see something new each time.

    • profile image

      ernad18 5 years ago

      This is one of my all time favorites. It's so funny - smart funny - that it's addicting and the lines and scenes have such nuances that you can watch it over and over and see something new each time.

    • Valora Janesh profile image

      Valora Janesh 5 years ago

      I fell in love with this musical in high school as a stage hand when I got to watch the rehearsals. A great play with catchy music.

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 5 years ago

      I've never seen it ...not yet anyway

    • MJsConsignments profile image

      Michelle 5 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

      I have, but many years ago and I really enjoyed it.

    • profile image

      cleanyoucar 5 years ago

      Looks like a great musical :D

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      I enjoyed reading this lens and learned a lot more about this play than I knew before. Thank you!

    • bwet profile image

      bwet 5 years ago

      NO... not yet but would love to see it!

    • McBub-Squidoo profile image

      McBub-Squidoo 5 years ago

      Thanks for your introduction.

    • rallo-smith profile image

      rallo-smith 5 years ago

      I need to see this!

    • Stacy Birch profile image

      Stacy Birch 5 years ago

      I've loved this play ever since I was a child, I own the 1980's and the 2002 remake and the 1980's play on dvd, but I wish they'd make a movie or at least release the 2002 version on dvd.

    • CCTVwebmaster profile image

      CCTVwebmaster 5 years ago

      I would like to see the show after reading your lens!

    • RuthMadison profile image

      RuthMadison 5 years ago

      I love Into the Woods. Never heard of the jr version. I must say I'm disturbed by that. It's a dark play for sure, and maybe not suitable for children, but part of the point is that there are consequences to going after what you want and not caring about other people. Those consequences are the second act of the play. Without that, the whole heart and moral of Into the Woods is gone.

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 5 years ago from New York

      We had the good fortune to be able to see Into the Woods on Broadway (Loved the giant climbing up the wall of the outside of the theater too!) and loved it. Thanks for bringing back the memories of a wonderful evening and favorite show.

    • profile image

      fryroost 5 years ago

      the eternal child and the dreamer of dreams first brought to life by Rohal Dahl in the book.I enjoyed my stroll into the woods here today.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I would like to this cool lens with my friends on Facebook, thanks for sharing.

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 5 years ago from Keller, Texas

      My morning started with your "review" of Into The Woods. You've piqued my interest and I look forward to seeing it on DVD or live. Your branch theme is awesome as well as the new "wood" theme.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have to go to this show.

    • profile image

      reasonablerobby 5 years ago

      This is a fantastic lens. I must confess my ignorance of this musical (shame on me). I love musicals. I was brought up on them because my mother was a music teacher and also musical director of Nottingham (UK) operatic society where she also started the youth group My first experience of a musical was when I was 4 years old in Carlisle where i was born. It was Oklahoma. When mum ran off stage in one of the scenes I wanted to know where she was and so I ran the orchestra pit and tugged on the coat of conductor (who I knew) to ask him to find my mum! Which he did and the orchestra played on.

      Mum also knew Constance Shacklock the mother superior in the London version of the Sound of Music. She became patron of Nottingham Operatic society.

      This lens has been a real treat to read. Thankyou.

    • MarcoG profile image

      Marc 5 years ago from Edinburgh

      Awwww wonderful lens, on a show I love dearly. I love the ensemble songs. Bernadette Peters was just wonderful as the Witch in the Broadway Cast. My favourite quote has to be: "The slotted spoons don't hold much soup" ("Have you seen a boy with carrot-topped hair and a sunny, though occasionally vague, disposition, answering to the name of ...Jack?") x

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image

      Missmerfaery444 5 years ago

      Had not come across this before, it sounds right up my street, would love to see it (and hear the music too!)

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

      I enjoyed my stroll into the woods here today. I saw it on DVD many years ago and enjoyed it so this was a trip down memory lane. I love the quotes and those branches!