Am I the only one?
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Author:  tallybro [ Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Am I the only one?

My first exposure to Into the Woods was through the OBC dvd recording. After seeing it I considered it a decent show, but light-years away from most Sondheim shows I knew.

Then I listened to the Original London Cast recording, and boy did my views of the show changed at that time! In a not so easy to explain manner, the London cast turns, through it's evident darker tone, almost any song I wasn't much fancy about in the OBC recording, into brilliance. I also purchased the video recording of the 2010 London production at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, and I found it to be much better than the OBC one, even though it still wasn't on par with the Original London recording. So my question is this: Am I the only one who dislikes the Original Broadway Cast of this show?

The main problem I have with the OBC is that I think the main cast seems to be acting has if they were on a children's play, I really can't understand why Sondheim and Lapine directed the show in such a manner when it seems evident to me, through the Original London recording, that the show benefits immensely from a darker tone in to it.

In the OBC, Joanna Gleason as the Baker's wife seems to rush a little bit through every song she sings, Chip Zien as the Baker is the main "criminal" of my previous critic about representing for children, and Bernadette Peters, even though she performs a superb rendition of "Stay With Me", falls short on acting in the second act, I just don't buy her "Lament" or her "Last Midnight".

During the second act of the show there are 4 characters who have to deal a relative's death. The Baker has to deal with the death of his wife, the Witch with the one of Rapunzel, Jack with his mother's, and Little Red Riding Hood with her mother's and her grandmother's. On the OBC I think Chip Zien as the Baker and Danielle Ferland as Little Red had just decent believable reactions to this deaths, but I just didn't buy the other 2 reactions, and this, I think, ruins the entire act (which includes the show's best moments in my opinion), just compare those reactions to the ones on the recording of the 2010 London production mentioned above!

I apologize if this text contains any spelling or grammar errors, please understand I'm not a native english speaker, as I believe most of you are.

Author:  Salome [ Fri Jun 29, 2012 6:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Am I the only one?

I agree with some points..but disagree about Joanna Gleason. I find her performance to be one of the all time great ones in musical theatre.

Author:  Jman383 [ Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Am I the only one?

Oh I disagree wholeheartedly. I can't stand either London cast (I also own the 2010 park version). Don't get me wrong, Regent Park's production is STUNNING, but most of the actors are completely lackluster, especially in the acting department. Hannah's voice is sublime, but I found her Witch almost laughable in the scenes. Helen Dallimore is clearly screwing someone in the West End...she's terrible in everything she does. Jack is annoying, Jenna Russell is shrill...I could go on and on and on and on.

Anyhoo, I won't really dispute your opinions on the OBC, to each his own. But I will say, IMO, Gleason is utter perfection. In everything. I just wish she had done what was written in "Moments in the Woods" for the ending, but meh, can't win 'em all. Peters is terrific as well for me. Her acting in Act 2 is extraordinary. I have seen the show countless times, and have yet to see a Witch really grasp the seriousness of Act 2 like Peters. "Ask a wolf's mother." "When you're dead, you're dead." etc etc, all of the most dramatic (yet simple) lines in the entire show, only Peters (from what I've seen) nails them. She's subtle yet intense, direct yet understated, and I love it.

But that's all just me. Again, to each his own :-)

Direction wise, I agree, Act Two could be darker. But if Act 1 is dark, the show goes no where. I think the OBC was a fine example of the journey the show must take. Again, could it have been darker? Sure. But for the audience that was viewing it (which obviously included American children), it does its job.

Author:  tallybro [ Fri Jun 29, 2012 2:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Am I the only one?

Well I agree that Helen Dallimore was crap, I think she as a decent voice but her acting is really the worse I've seen. I'm not that big a fan of the Regent's Park version anyway, but I think the 3 main characters (the witch, the baker and the baker's wife) and the overall production were superior in comparison with the OBC. I really can't see what's so great about Gleason to be honest...

But has you said, to each his own opinion, I didn't post this thread to "make everyone see the truth" or anything like that, and I understand that the majority of people prefer the OBC, what I find odd though is that this seems to include the overwhelming vast majority, like 99% of the show fans. To me, the OLC is near perfection, and I just wanted to see if there are other similarly minded people.

As for the direction, I think the audience included children because of the way the show was produced, not the other way around.

Author:  Salome [ Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Am I the only one?

if you cant see whats so great about Joanna Gleason you cant tell the difference between decent and brilliant.

Author:  tallybro [ Wed Jul 04, 2012 3:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Am I the only one?

That's your opinion, you can't be so objective when talking about art. If you pick a random musical theater fan, there will probably be at least one performance you think it's brilliant and he doesn't, and vice versa, yet that doesn't mean he "can't tell the difference between decent and brilliant", only that he has a different opinion

Author:  bren1 [ Wed Jul 04, 2012 3:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Am I the only one?

I wouldn't sweat it if I were you, tallybro.

Like you said, opinions are a dime a dozen and totally subjective. You've expressed yours, and she's expressed hers. Leave it at that.

Author:  tallybro [ Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Am I the only one?


I didn't mean to sound aggressive on my comment, or anything like that, if I did I'm sorry, it was far from my intentions.

Author:  kozafluitmusique [ Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Am I the only one?

Personally, I first heard the London cast first (with Imelda Staunton as the Baker's Wife). I love it. Absolutely love it.

With that said, the OBC is also brilliant.

I can see the London one (original) being darker and such.

Author:  Mungojerrie_rt [ Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Am I the only one?

I think the main differences between the two come from the differences in the way that comedy is often played between American and British shows. Americans, in general, seem to play humour out of the silly things by being silly with it, while British are more likely to play the humour by presenting the silly as if it were totally serious. I wouldn't say either is better or worse, but it does create interesting comparisons.

I much prefer the OLC recording over OBC myself, mainly because the OBC recording is actually a pretty poor one. The actors do not seem interested on it, and the sound is rather tinny. The proshot of the cast shows they can do a fantastic job live, just that the recording lacks life.

Author:  Yakko [ Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Am I the only one?

Why does everyone not like Hannah as the witch? She was SO much better then Bernadette Peters!

Author:  Jman383 [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Am I the only one?

Vocally, Hannah is a beast. The acting moments were lost in Act 2, however. Every witch I have ever seen (including Hannah and Donna Murphy) has lacked the subtlety, simplicity and matter-of-factness Bernadette had in Act 2, that made the Witch so dark, rich and deep, really.

Every woman obnoxiously overdoes the lines. Bernadette just said them. She was brilliant, and made me care about her character's existential perspective. Because that's the point of Act 2. Different outlooks and philosophies on life. The Witch represents bleakness. That has been lost in every other production I've watched, either live, or recorded, and it's because of the actress being a caricature. Caricature is fine in Act 1, necessary even. But not in those spots in Act 2 where there's depth.

EDIT: And for more specificity, the lines in question include (but are NOT limited to)

You were thinking the same thing.

Since when are you so squeamish? How many wolves have you carved up?

Ask a wolf's mother.

He was sobbing over her like she was his own mother.

Remorse will get you nowhere.

Wake up! People are dying all around you! You're not the only one to suffer a loss. When you're dead you're dead.

This is no time to be soft hearted. He's going to the giant and I am taking him there.

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