Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Stephen Sondheim, Vanessa Williams, John McMartin|
Into the Woods (2002 Broadway Revival Cast)
Genres: Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Into the Woods, a trip to the dark side of fairy tales, usually doesn't show up on lists of Stephen Sondheim's finest offerings, but its broad appeal has turned it into the composer's most licensed project since its 1987 o... more »
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Into the Woods, a trip to the dark side of fairy tales, usually doesn't show up on lists of Stephen Sondheim's finest offerings, but its broad appeal has turned it into the composer's most licensed project since its 1987 opening. It's no surprise, then, that it's become the object of a revival. The new production (which won the 2002 Tony for Best Revival of a Musical) was directed by James Lapine, the other half of the original creative team. Vanessa Williams, stepping into Bernadette Peters's shoes as the Witch, offers a powerful performance in what is, as written, no more than an ensemble part. The rest of the cast is wonderful, with special mentions to Laura Benanti as Cinderella and Stephen DeRosa and Kerry O'Malley as the Baker and his wife (all three will be familiar to New York musical buffs for their excellent performances in the Encores! series). All right, so the show's second act is still a lot less winning than the first one on stage, but the recording emphasizes the fact that it does boast some prime Sondheim numbers: "Last Midnight," "No One Is Alone," and "Children Will Listen." And we even get "Our Little World," a song that had been added to the 1990 London production. All in all, it's nice to have Into the Woods back, as it can both appeal to adults and provide an introduction to musicals for some kids. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
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M | California | 06/30/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This recording is wonderful and was worth every penny. It's quality is good and besides that, it comes with the full libretto along with the synopsis and some color pictures from the production. The orchestrations are beautiful and, as far as I can tell, haven't changed a bit from the original. I've found from past experience that it's hard for me to evaluate something in a paragraph, so this might be a little long...-Vanessa Williams is fine as the Witch, but she lacks "witchyness" that the character needs. She is, without a doubt, an amazing performer, but her interpretation doesn't quite fit the character. She HAS grown on me quite a bit from when I first heard the recording, and I have to respect the fact that she is not Bernadette Peters, but a whole other Witch. She is a bit more haughty and sarcastic, maybe. But I still do think she needs to be more witchy. Other than that, she does a great job.
-Marylouise Burke as Jack's Mother is fine--it's shocking the first time you hear her go so low to sing, but you totally get used it. There are a couple of times in the prologue where she gets off tune, but for the most part, she does fine. It's not like she has any huge solos or anything.
-Laura Benanti is great as Cinderella. She has got to be one of the most beautiful sopranos I've ever heard. Wonderful take on the character... There are times when she reminds me of Kim Crosby, but there are others when she is a totally different Cinderella.
-I loved Stephen DeRosa as the Baker. He's got a deep, strong voice that fits the Baker's character, as opposed to Chip Zien's original "nervous" Baker. Chip Zien was good, but I have to say that I loved Stephen DeRosa's voice much better. He gives a wonderful performance.
-In my opinion, the best thing about this recording is Kerry O'Malley and her fresh new take on the Baker's Wife. I honestly never thought anyone could be so different from Joanna Gleason and at the same time, be just as good as her. But Kerry O'Malley has done it. Her Baker's Wife seems a lot more young and naive and she has a sweet-sounding, Eponine type voice. Her "Maybe They're Magic" was one of the best songs on this CD, despite the fact that it is about 50 seconds long. And her "Moments in the Woods" gets me every time I listen to it. I adored Joanna as the Baker's Wife, but I've also come to love Kerry. She's simply amazing.
-Molly Ephraim and Adam Wylie in the roles of Little Red and Jack are fine, but not spectacular. There were times when I felt Molly Ephraim wasn't acting in her role as well as she was singing in it. As far as I could tell from the recording, her Little Red had no personality! She has a nice, simple voice, though, and her "I Know Things Now" is enjoyable. Adam Wylie was OK, I suppose, although there were times when I caught him hitting wrong notes and that annoyed me. Overall, he is a strong singer, though.
-Gregg Edelman is AWESOME as Cinderella's Prince! What a voice.. He kind of reminds me of Robert Westenberg in the original. He's just great. And he's good in "Hello Little Girl" as the Wolf as well. Christopher Sieber as Rapunzel's Prince is also very satisfying.
-Melissa Dye as Rapunzel is incredible. She has a beautiful voice, was great in "Our Little World." Also, she handles those "hysterical" scenes well, she's convincing but doesn't overdo it.Some other comments...
-The new ending to "On the Steps of the Palace" is fine but not necessary. The only impact I feel that it has is that it's no longer Cinderella's big solo. I guess it's nice finish to this song, but it steals the spotlight from Cinderella. We really don't need Jack and Little Red coming in and telling us they learned something too, in my opinion. I think we all get that. I prefer the original ending.
-"No One is Alone" is beautiful. I ADORE the new ending. It makes the song even more touching than it was before. I do NOT, however, like when Little Red sings her line, "I wish..." and in reply Cinderella SINGS, instead of just plain speaks, her line ("I know"). Very annoying, and it felt to me like Cinderella was taunting or mocking Little Red. Bad idea. It even takes away the beauty of the song for a minute there.
-"Your Fault" is done wonderfully--much better than how it was done in the original. The original casts' Your Fault seemed choppy and uneven, but this time it's done swiftly and consistently. I also like the way the music starts slow in the beginning, but speeds up for the Baker's first line. Good touch.
-As I said above, I loved "Moments in the Woods." For some reason, it's one of my favorite songs of all time, and I love it when Joanna Gleason sings it, but now I love it just as much when Kerry O'Malley sings it. She has a BEAUTIFUL voice.Overall a wonderful recording and definitely worth buying. :)"
Into the Woods (2002 broadway revival cast)
C. Shipley | Phoenix, AZ | 06/26/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The new Into the Woods is a must have! This new cast of Into the Woods took me completely by surpirse. The new cast is almost as good as the original cast and Vanessa Williams shines as the witch, but lacks some of the power that Bernadette Peters used to make the witch come alive. I was afraid when I heard that Sondheim had made a few changes to the show. I believe that the original cast album is a gem. The changes include 3 little pigs, a second wolf, minor alterations of words to a few songs like "On the Steps of the Palace", and the editon of "Our Little World" in act one. The song was cut from the Broadway production but appears on the London cast album. These changes enhance the show which I thought was already perfect. This is a must purchase if you love the original cast album. You will not be disappointed!"
Thankfully, Sondheim's score hasn't been changed...much
heymrmusic | 06/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, basically the recording of the new revival of "Into the Woods" sounds the same as the original just with different singers. There are some minor changes, most of them will not make fans cringe. Here's my view on each song on the new recording:"Prologue: Into the Woods" - They added a little chime intro before the Narrator begins. They have added some dialogue that was cut out from the original. My only problem with this song is that all of the parts sung by Marylouise Burke, who plays Jack's Mother, have been transposed drastically lower because of her limited and extremely low range. Her portrayal is nowhere near the caliber of the original Mother, Barbara Bryne."Cinderella at the Grave" - This is interesting, mainly because Laura Benanti sings both Cinderella and Cinderella's Mother. Laura is brilliant as always."Hello, Little Girl" - More dialogue added, one Wolf added. As Wolf #1 lusts for Little Red Ridinghood, Wolf #2 goes after the Three Little Pigs. The song is probably more effective when acted out on stage."I Guess This Is Goodbye"/"Maybe They're Magic" - We see a glimpse of Jack, sung by Adam Wylie. Kerry O'Malley is refreshing as the Baker's Wife; it's nice to hear someone younger-sounding sing the part, although I personally loved Joanna Gleason's performance."Our Little World" - This song was cut from the original. We get to hear Rapunzel sing more. The song is sung as the Witch climbs up Rapunzel's hair and the end is quite amusing."I Know Things Now" - Molly Ephraim seems fitting for Little Red Ridinghood but I would like to see her act the song out rather than listen to the song since it sounds almost exactly like the original."A Very Nice Prince"/"First Midnight"/"Giants in the Sky" - They cut half of "A Very Nice Prince"! Ugh, how could they? Both Laura and Kerry sing beautifully. In "First Midnight," the advice given by the Grandmother is cut out since the same actress who plays her is now also Cinderella's Stepmother. Adam Wylie sings "Giants" well but, I don't know, I just prefer the original, sung by Ben Wright. Still one of my favorite songs."Agony" - The only thing bothering me in this song is the end. I prefer the quiet ending of the original to the new forte ending. The two Princes don't blend as well as the original two."It Takes Two" - A wonderful rendition. Very well done."Stay with Me" - This was transposed down for Vanessa Williams. Vanessa doesn't sing it with the same feeling Bernadette Peters did. Vanessa really doesn't have that kind of lullaby voice style, but I guess she tried."On the Steps of the Palace" - Wow, Laura Benanti just shines in this song. She is just amazing! I love this song and she does it justice. However, they added Little Red and Jack at the end for some harmony. I don't get how they fit in, I'll have to see it played out on stage."Ever After" - Nothing's really changed. They added the "To be continued..." part which was left out in the original. They hold the last note a bit longer, I guess to give it more of a finale feel."Prologue: So Happy" - Nothing's changed really."Agony (Reprise)" - Um, again I prefer the piano ending as opposed to the new forte one."Lament" - Vanessa just doesn't have the feeling Bernadette put into the Witch. She tries, but oh well."Any Moment"/"Moments in the Woods" - Gregg Edelman sings it well, but the song is cut. Kerry is lovely once again. Her version is beautiful and I love the new ending, she sings the last few notes an octave higher rather than the blahsome original ending. Wonderful."Your Fault" - Um, still the same craziness here."Last Midnight" - There are a couple of new verses added. The Witch now sings to the Baker's baby. Vanessa's version of this song is her most impressive on the recording. I think it's well done."No More" - This was done well. Stephen DeRosa sings wonderfully and John McMartin does well too. Aw, touching."No One Is Alone" - Just beautiful. Laura's voice is angelic. Very effective, I loved it. The new harmonies at the end work well and Laura adds a crisp higher note at the end. Yay Laura!"Finale: Children Will Listen" - It begins solemnly as each of the characters lays down his or her advice. It's a bit eerie. Kerry O'Malley once again does a great job. Vanessa is all right I guess, they transposed it down a little for her but it returns to the original key. Laura and Kerry (!) add harmony at the end of the Witch's solo. The ending's the same as the original except that Laura sings the "I wish" sooner than Kim Crosby did in the original.All right, there's my voice about this recording. In all, the score hasn't changed that much, it's still the intriguing and twisted self that Sondheim made it to be. Vanessa sings pleasantly but not emotional enough for the Witch. Laura Benanti is heavenly as Cinderella, just as the original played by Kim Crosby. Kerry O'Malley is just as refreshing as the Baker's Wife. The rest of the cast (minus Marylouise Burke, I'm sorry I just didn't like her Jack's Mother) do a superb job of maintaining a wonderful recording. One thing I have noticed in this version is that all the songs seem rushed somehow, maybe to keep the entire score on one disc. Anyway, it still sounds great, it remains one of my favorites and I will probably see this production soon. So yes, get this CD, it's always delightful to go back for seconds."