No, this isn't a review of the movie. I'm talking here about the Fiasco Theater production, which is currently in previews Off Broadway at the Laura Pels Theater. It's terrific: innovative, warm, funny, sad, infectiously goofy, and performed by a charming cast that lacks the studio-scrubbed pipes and carefully groomed good looks of the cast featured in the film. I'm paying the company a complement, by the way, and not implying that they're ugly--though if they were, that'd be cool, too. Into the Woods
, after all, purports to be about our favorite fairy tale characters, but it's really about how messy and flawed and directly contradictory human beings are. Botoxed actors who wear their rags perfectly, and boast artful smudges on their faces, are kind of missing the point.
So are productions (and films) that take the woods literally, at least as I now see it. Don't get me wrong: I saw the original Broadway production many years ago, and the film version about a month ago, and I thought both were fine. But neither one caused Into the Woods
to work its way into my blood, brain, and soul the way that, say, past productions of Follies, Company,
and Sweeney Todd
have. I know plenty of people for whom Woods
is top tier Sondheim. But me? I've just never understood what the fuss was about.