Joshua Henry and Gavin Creel as the Princes in “Into the Woods” Credit: Matt Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade photos

The revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” at the St. James Theatre is just what Broadway needed! This delightful musical with music and lyrics by the late, great Sondheim and a book by James Lapine, choreography by Lorin Latarro, music direction by Rob Berman and direction by Lear DeBessonet, takes many of the children’s stories we knew, but takes them to a different level. You see characters like Cinderella, her evil Stepmother and two Wicked Stepsisters, the Baker and his Wife who desperately want to have a child, the Witch who has cursed them, and Jack and his mother who are poor and have to sell the family cow Milky White for money. You have two Princes, one from the Ball that Cinderella attends and the other taken with the beauty of Rapunzel, a fair maiden with long hair in a high tower.

This revival is phenomenal! Every song is a showstopper, and the cast has some of the most radiant, beautifully toned and tremendously captivating voices you will hear in a Broadway theater. Everyone brings their A game and what’s also great about it, is they all seem to be having a great time on the stage. I know everyone in the audience was having a blast! “Into the Woods” is hilarious as well, especially songs and interactions between the two princes referred to as Cinderella’s Prince and Rapunzel’s Prince and of course the Wolf, played by the same actor as Cinderella’s Prince, is both funny and delightful.

Speaking of fairytales, this is a dream of a cast! Patina Miller plays the Witch and Patina is PERFECT. She has a stunningly beautiful voice. Miller is mesmerizing as she weaves her way through the numerous emotions that the Witch feels. When she sings “Stay With Me” you are actually moved to tears. Sara Bareilles is completely sublime as the Baker’s Wife. She has a lovely voice and some great comedic timing. Brian D’Arcy James is brilliant as the Baker. He is one musical theater actor who always comes to the party fully ready, willing and able to make his role memorable. I love any time he is cast in a musical. He’s marvelous! Gavin Creel plays Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf and he is beyond amazing! Scenes between him and Joshua Henry, who plays Rapunzel’s Prince, are absolutely hilarious! They are over-dramatic to the point of hilarity. Every time they came on stage, they had the crowd going wild. Their gestures, facial expressions, and everything about their performances screamed “funny and ridiculous.” “Agony” was over-the-top hilarious! Musical comedy doesn’t get better than that delightful song. One of the exciting aspects of going to see a revival is when you see fresh, new talent get their chance to shine and that is exactly what is happening here, as two young actors are making very splendid Broadway debuts: Julia Lester is hilarious and adorable as Little Red Ridinghood and Cole Thompson is absolutely charming, sweet and funny as Jack. These two young people are definitely going places and where they go, I definitely want to be! Phillipa Soo is marvelous as Cinderella; Alysia Velez is maddeningly beautiful and sympathetic as Rapunzel; David Patrick Kelly plays two roles with such distinction and flair as story Narrator and Mysterious Man; Aymee Garcia is great as Jack’s Mother—she is funny and sympathetic as she tries to teach her slow-minded son about life. Nancy Opel is wonderful as Cinderella’s Stepmother. Ta’nika Gibson and Brooke Ishibashi are amusing as Cinderella’s Stepsisters—Lucinda and Florinda, David Turner was funny as the Steward, and Albert Guerzon was fine as Cinderella’s Father.  Milky White the cow is a puppet and Cameron Johnson brought her to life at the performance I attended, a role that normally belongs to Kennedy Kanagawa. The role of Milky White was absolutely adorable as the cow cried, mooed, and ran a gamut of emotions.

This musical is Sondheim’s work at its BEST! And it’s great for the entire family!

Make plans to go and be swept away to “Into the Woods,” playing at the St. James Theatre on W. 44th Street. For more info, visit www.intothewoodsbway.com.

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