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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Thursday, November 5

Sondheim in the Woods

Synopsis

“Into the Woods,” a new musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, opened on Broadway on today’s date in 1987, and brought to the stage characters from the world of fairy-tales: Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and not one, but TWO Prince Charmings.

But in Lapine and Sondheim’s fairy tale, bad things happen to good people who make morally questionable decisions in their quest to “live happily ever after.”

At the time, Sondheim said, “All fairy tales are parables about steps to maturity. The final step is when you become responsible for the people around you, when you feel connected to the rest of the world.”

The New York Times review noted that this fairy tale’s quest was “the same painful, existential one taken by so many adults in Sondheim musicals past.” Granting the musical was “potent stuff,” some complained there was simply too much of it, with multiple plot lines resulting in a complicated story hampering Sondheim’s lyrical gifts from really taking off on their own.

Even so, since its 1987 premiere, “Into the Woods” has gone on to become one of the most performed and popular of all Sondheim’s musicals.

Music Played in Today's Program

Stephen Sondheim (b. 1930) Into the Woods Original Broadway cast members RCA 60752

Additional Information

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