‘Into The Woods’: classic fairytales with an emotional twist of modern life

By Meghan O'Brien and Jordan Elias

Fresh off of the Broadway stage, the Tony Award-winning musical “Into The Woods” began its two-week run at the Emerson Colonial Theatre on Tuesday night. The performance captured the eyes, ears, and hearts of children and adults alike.

The Emerson Colonial Theatre is known to host Broadway shows, such as “Oklahoma!,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” and “A Little Night Music.” In recent years, the theater has also held world premieres of fan-favorite musicals such as “Moulin Rouge” and “A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical.”

Following a recent revival of the musical in the summer of 2022, the national tour of “Into The Woods” began its run in February, shortly after the show’s closure in the St. James Theatre in New York City. 

“Into the Woods” has risen to the top in a new era of Broadway musicals. Due to Broadway’s post-pandemic comeback, along with the release of the revival’s original Broadway cast recording, the show’s popularity has rapidly risen in the last few months. 

The resurgence of this musical is a devoted tribute to the beloved Stephen Sondheim, Broadway legend, composer, and lyricist.

 “Into The Woods is arguably the most humorous of Sondheim shows,” says The Hollywood Reporter. 

Musical theater fans from around and outside the city of Boston have all gathered to enjoy the late composer’s musical works and witness the fantastic talent that lies on the stage before them. 

Based on the beautifully devastating fairytales of old, “Into the Woods” captures the essence of modern life within the traditional “hero’s journey.” The story follows a baker and his wife—played by real-life husband and wife Sebastian Arcelus and Stephanie J. Block—as they attempt to lift a mysterious curse placed upon their house by the old witch, played by Montego Glover, who lives next door. The couple venture into the woods and along the way meet a wandering princess, a young boy named Jack with his cow, as well as a young girl with a red cape. 

The simple yet stunning set shifts into an intrepid forest that the characters use to their advantage in songs such as “Hello Little Girl,” where the wolf crawls around the stage and embraces the space and Little Red Riding Hood as his. In “Agony,” both Cinderella’s and Rapunzel’s princes remain together and use the simple set to their advantage when pointing off in the distance, and looking back at each other longing for their loves. 

In an attempt to reverse the curse on their family name, the couple venture into the woods and to find the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold. Along the way, they learn that even their most desired wishes can be deceiving. The events that follow within these woods are jam-packed with beautifully composed music performed by a live orchestra, along with valuable life lessons that are prevalent in both the classic fairy tales and today. 

Although the theater’s energy for opening night was notably present throughout the entirety of the show, the crowd was especially astounded by the performance given by Gavin Creel, who played both Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf. His vibrant energy with his co-stars lit the theater up with laughter, and his amazing vocals brought the audience to their feet.

Katy Geraghty, who played Little Red Riding Hood, captured the hearts of everyone in the room. Geraghty’s sharp wit and hilarious performance of Red Riding Hood’s infamous song, “I Know Things Now,” brought the audience nothing but smiles and cheers. 

For many theater fanatics, it did not come as a shocker when Montego Glover stole the show once more with her iconic portrayal of the witch. With her intimate and powerful vocals, Glover delivered an emotional conclusion to her character’s story and left the audience continuously on the edge of their seats.

“Glover’s voice soars in “Last Midnight” as well as breaks your heart in “Stay with Me,” says journalist Kristin Franco in her review of the tour’s recent performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C. 

During their time in Boston, the cast and crew will also be providing accessible performances on select dates for those who prefer open captioning, live audio description, or an American Sign Language accompaniment. If you’re eager to follow the Giant’s trail, you can catch “Into the Woods” in Boston until April 2 before the company continues on to Philadelphia.