5 Facts We Learned About Into the Woods During the Original-Cast Reunion
Creators Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine joined stars Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, and more for an unprecedented chat at Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Hoards of Broadway superfans gathered at Brooklyn Academy of Music's Howard Gilman Opera House on June 21 where the original stars and creators of the musical Into the Woods reunited for an afternoon and evening of panel discussions and performance excerpts.
Moderated by Mo Rocca, the concerts, which took place at 2pm and 7pm, kicked off with a conversation between Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine about the creation of the show, before cast members Joanna Gleason (the Tony-winning Baker's Wife), Chip Zien (the Baker), Kim Crosby (Cinderella), Robert Westenberg (Wolf/Cinderella's Prince), Danielle Ferland (Little Red Riding Hood), Ben Wright (Jack), and Bernadette Peters (the Witch) were brought out to chat about their contributions and sing several numbers from Into the Woods itself.
Here are five interesting factoids we learned over the course of the show that will certainly change the way we look at the material the next time we pop in our well-worn DVD of the musical.
1. The origin story of "I'm in the Wrong Story."
Stephen Sondheim admitted that the first and "only" line he ever stole from an actor is "I'm in the wrong story." The "Any Moment" lyric came out of a conversation he was having with Joanna Gleason, as they tried to parse out the Baker's Wife's seduction at the hands of Cinderella's Prince.
2. Cinderella and Cinderella's Prince are actually married in real life.
When Robert Westenberg, who played the Wolf and Cinderella's Prince, walked into the first day of rehearsals, he surveyed the room and got a little apprehensive. Then he spotted a beautiful woman. When he asked Tom Aldredge, the original Narrator and Mysterious Man, who she was, Aldredge replied, "That's your wife." Of course, what he meant was that Kim Crosby was playing Cinderella. Four years later, Westenberg and Crosby were married in real life, and they currently live with their children in Springfield, Missouri.
3. What "No One Is Alone" actually means.
While many believe that "No One Is Alone" means that no person is actually alone in this world, Sondheim noted that his intentions for the song was to show that "every action you take has a reaction, and everything you do affects everything around you."
4. The Witch's transformation is revealed.
James Lapine spilled the beans on the Witch's split-second first-act transformation, in which she goes from evil old hag to beautiful, statuesque model. They used a body double, a figure who acted the part and could lip-sync dialogue that Bernadette Peters pre-recorded, while Peters made a lightning-fast quick change below the stage. Kim Crosby recalled that, as Peters had several dressers tearing off parts of her Witch costume, all Peters had to do was apply lipstick.
5. Into the Woods was almost a television show
According to Sondheim and Lapine, Into the Woods came about because Sondheim wanted to write a "quest" musical (where the characters went on a journey to find something, like in The Wizard of Oz), and Lapine had the desire to write a fairytale. But the idea of doing a fairytale mash-up was inspired by a TV show the pair pitched to Norman Lear, which brought the characters from shows like Doctor Kildare and Father Knows Best and I Love Lucy into the central location of a hospital (sort of like the current TV show Once Upon a Time). Lear loved the idea, but wanted a screenplay from the writers, who declined to write one and moved on to Into the Woods.