Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Amy Adams Goes “Into the Woods” And Comes Out A Winner


Despite today’s completely wrongheaded New York Times review of “Into the Woods,” the Sondheim musical production by Shakespeare in the Park is organic, endearing, looney fun. I loved it. So did everyone else at last night’s grand premiere, and they weren’t relatives of the cast. I did run into Mort Zuckerman (on a date), Chris Sarandon and Joanna Gleason, John Patrick Shanley, Camryn Manheim,  “Venus in Fur” director Walter Bobbie, actors Jay O. Sanders and Marianne Plunkett, and lots of other interesting types. But the evening was about “Into the Woods,” the musical that followed “Sweeney Todd” on Broadway in the Sondheim canon. I was at opening night in 1987. (I was six at the time!) This version eclipsed that one. It’s a totally enjoyable hit.

Movie star Amy Adams, who was so good in the movie “Enchanted,” makes her New York-not Broadway debut as the Baker’s Wife opposite the remarkable Denis O’Hare as the Baker. They are wonderful. Adams sings like a bird and is fun on stage. She’s eminently watchable and gets the Baker’s Wife dilemma in the second act, when all the fairy tales go sour and the characters have to face life’s issues. Adams is ready to headline a Broadway musical. She told me: “It’s Stephen Sondheim and it’s hard.” We agreed: there are a lot of words in those songs.

Among the other great pleasures of “Into the Woods”: Donna Murphy as the Witch, the aforementioned Denis O’Hare, Jessie Mueller as Cinderella (gorgeous voice) and Chip Zien as the mysterious stranger. (He was in the original production 25 years ago, and is better than ever.) The set has a nice organic feel as it is outside, and you never notice the running time of over three hours. There is nothing better than listening to Donna Murphy. I could do it all day. Ivan Hernandez is a charming prince Charming. There’s also much to be said for Rachel Canning’s puppetry and the sinister Giant–made up of umbrellas and voiced by Glenn Close.

See “Into the Woods”–don’t miss it!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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