A new production of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods is opening in L.A. early next year at the Ahmanson, with a Broadway run planned after that. And I hear that, although Kevin Chamberlin came right down to the wire for the role of the Baker, that deal fell through and the part will instead be played by Stephen DeRosa.
Anyone who saw DeRosa in the Off-Broadway revival of Charles Ludlam's The Mystery of Irma Vep will vouch for his talent; yet the actor hasn't yet fulfilled the promise of his work in that show, despite subsequent appearances in the Encores! production of Do Re Mi, the Roundabout's The Man Who Came to Dinner, Manhattan Theatre Club's Newyorkers, and the York Theatre Company's The "It" Girl. The Baker is a juicy role which will almost certainly prove more rewarding for him than anything since Irma Vep, if he has indeed won it.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, director/librettist James Lapine wants the new Woods to have "a simpler look" than the original Broadway production. Bob Crowley will do the sets for this revival. And it's reported that songs cuts from the original may be included this time out, as well as some songs written by Sondheim for a planned film version. Lapine also told the Times that he may experiment with one of several alternate endings that he had written for the musical's problematic second act.
Though none of the show's casting is official, including that of DeRosa, some interesting names have been bandied about. Billy Porter was at one time mentioned for the role of the Witch, but the almost-as-wild rumor of the moment is that Jennifer Holliday is up for the assignment! I also hear that Kristin Chenoweth--whose name has come up in connection with countless musical theater projects over the past several months--could possibly end up playing the Baker's Wife; though the role of Cinderella might seem a more obvious choice for her, the front runner for that part is said to be Laura Benanti.
Into the Woods will play at the Ahmanson from February 4 through March 24, produced by Dodger Theatricals in association with Center Theater Group