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Into the Woods with Neil Patrick Harris and Sara Bareilles opens – but what did the critics think?

Sondheim and Lapine's musical is revived in New York

Kennedy Kanagawa, Neil Patrick Harris and Sara Bareilles
© Joan Marcus

Into the Woods is having something of a moment – unsurprising given the recent passing of venerated composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

With a solid revival in Belfast a few months back and an upcoming production in Bath, UK audiences have definitely got a dose of copse-based copulation and fantastical frights this year.

Over in New York, the much-loved company "Encores!" has gone and assembled a powerhouse team putting Sondheim and James Lapine's show on for two weeks – the star-studded cast includes Sara Bareilles as the Baker's Wife, Neil Patrick Harris as the Baker, Jordan Donica as Rapunzel's Prince, Heather Headley as the Witch, Julia Lester as Little Red Riding Hood, Denée Benton as Cinderella, Shereen Pimentel as Rapunzel, and Cole Thompson as Jack.

But what did the critics make of artistic director Lear deBessonet's production of the show? "Near-perfect", it turns out.

According to Hayley Levitt on our sister-site TheaterMania, "for a concert production with such a limited rehearsal period, each character is remarkably well-drawn, with every beat accounted for in Sondheim's artfully crafted songs that teach as much about life as they do about musical-theatre writing."

Each cast member is given a chance to shine, from "Headley embodying a mother's fear and devastation" through to "Bareilles' "Moments in the Woods" – a grounded contemplation on the sad yet beautiful choices that come with adulthood." Harris is said to be a blast "ornamenting his timid character with delightful bits of physical comedy."

"Somewhere, Sondheim is smiling", the review wraps up by stating. Big words for what must end up going down as a definitive revival of the show.

Read the full review here

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