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Into the Woods

a musical in two acts: Book by James Lapine: Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

First produced at the Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, 4 December 1986 with Chip Zien (Baker), Joanna Gleason (Baker's Wife), Ellen Foley (Witch) and John Cunningham (Narrator). Produced at the Martin Beck Theatre, New York, 5 November 1987 with Chip Zien, Joanna Gleason, Bernadette Peters and Tom Aldredge.

Produced at the Phoenix Theatre, London, 25 September 1990 with Clive Carter, Imelda Staunton, Julia McKenzie and Nicholas Parsons.


Act I "Once upon a time," beings the Narrator in his Prologue: Into the Woods, "in a far-off kingdom lived a fair maiden, a sad young lad and a childless baker with his wife." More than anything, Cinderella wishes to go to the King's Festival, Jack wishes his cow, Milky-White, would give him some milk, the Baker and his Wife wish for a child. But, scrubbing in the kitchen, Cinderella and her foolish reveries are mocked by her Stepmother and her Stepsisters; Jack's Mother wants him to sell Milky-White; and the Baker and his Wife are distracted by the arrival of Little Red Riding Hood, in search of a sticky bun to take to her grandmother in the woods. The Witch next door offers to end the couple's barrenness if the Baker can find four crucial ingredients for a magic potion: "the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, the slipper as pure as gold." Accompanied only by six beans from his father's jacket, the Baker sets off into the woods; so does Jack, to sell his cow; and Cinderella, to visit her mother's grave.

Cinderella at the Grave repeats her wish and, magically, a white and silver gown and gold slippers drop from the hazel tree. Elsewhere in the woods, Red Riding Hood is surprised by a slavering Wolf (Hello, Little Girl), who persuades her to take a short detour, while Jack sells Milky-White to the Baker for five beans and then tells his cow, I Guess This Is Goodbye. The Baker feels badly about taking advantage of a simpleton, but his Wife thinks the beans were a fair exchange. Maybe They're Magic, she suggests, and, anyway, their chances of children depend on getting the- ingredients: the end justifies the beans. But the Baker is worried about Red Riding Hood - and with good cause. At the cottage, both Grandmother and the young girl have been swallowed by the Wolf. Rescued by the Baker, Red Riding Hood savours her new self-awareness and realises, "I Know Things Now."

Endeavouring to shake off A Very Nice Prince, Cinderella stumbles across a giant beanstalk,. but it is now the end of the day - the First Midnight - a time to reflect on the day's adventures. Only Jack is curious enough to shin up the beanstalk, where he discovers gold -and Giants In the Sky. Cinderella's Prince, thwarted in his search, commiserates with his Brother, who's in a similar Agony over Rapunzel, a maiden confined to a doorless tower accessible only by climbing her corn-yellow hair. For the Baker and his Wife, though, the pieces are falling in place. They have the cow, a strand of Rapunzel's hair, Red Riding Hood's cape - all secured by their sense of teamwork: It Takes Two, they tell each other.

Unfortunately, the cow dies. The Witch, furious that her daughter Rapunzel is seeing a Prince, ends up chopping off her hair. On the Steps of the Palace, Cinderella mulls things over: the Prince has spread pitch on the stairs and trapped her. Jack is being pursued by a giant - until, thinking quickly, the lad chops down the beanstalk and begs her to "Stay With Me" but with a dull thud, the ogre lands dead in the yard.

Everything has turned out for the best: the Baker produces the ingredients, the ugly old Witch mixes her potions and restores her beauty, the Baker's Wife becomes pregnant, Jack - laden with gold - and his cow (restored to life) resume their friendship. Cinderella and Rapunzel marry their Princes. With the exception of Cinderella's stepsisters, blinded by pigeons, everyone lives happy Ever After.

Act II Once upon a time - later ... As the Narrator explains in another Prologue: So Happy, despite one or two quibbles everyone is content - until, suddenly, the Baker's house is reduced to rubble. The only clue: a huge footprint.

Back into the woods they go - except Cinderella's and Rapunzel's Princes who, marital bliss notwithstanding, have come across Sleeping Beauty and the equally unwakeable Snow White, two new maidens who again have them in Agony. But, for one of them, there'll be no need for a messy divorce. A Giant - actually, a giantess - is on the rampage, eager to avenge her husband's death, and she carelessly tramples Rapunzel to death. The Witch begins a Lament for her daughter and turns on the Narrator because she doesn't like the way he's telling the story. Only after she's tossed him to the Giantess does it dawn on them that the story is now out of control: the Prince's Steward kills Jack's Mother, Any Moment now they could be dead, says Cinderella's Prince before seducing the Baker's Wife; after a few brief Moments In the Woods, she is, indeed, crushed to death by falling timber. "It's Your Fault," everyone tells each other. It's the Last Midnight: the Witch scatters a few beans and disappears in a puff of smoke. No More, decides the Baker. It's time to take responsibility.

Devising a plan to slay the Giantess, the Baker, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and the others comfort each other with the thought that No One Is Alone. When peace is restored to the woods, the Baker begins to tell his son the story - "Once upon a time. . and share what he has learned. (Finale: Children Will Listen).


Orchestration Details

Reed I - Piccolo, Flute
Reed II - Clarinet
Reed III - Bassoon
2 Horns
Trumpet db. Piccolo. Trumpet