Tony-winning Broadway stars reprise roles for ‘Into the Woods’ at Kennedy Center

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Into the Woods' at Kennedy Center (Part 1)

In 1987, Stephen Sondheim’s original musical was nominated for 10 Tonys, winning three.

Starting Thursday, “Into the Woods” visits Kennedy Center with the cast reprising its Broadway roles, including Stephanie J. Block as The Baker’s Wife, Sebastian Arcelus as The Baker, Montego Glover as The Witch and Gavin Creel as Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf.

“We’re direct from Broadway. Everybody in our cast was a part of the Broadway company,” actor Cole Thompson told WTOP. “When I found out these people were going to be joining us in this cast, I was in disbelief. I have looked up to them for so long, since high school when I first got into musical theater. I have been obsessed with each of these actors!”

The magical story interweaves the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, Cinderella) with the story of a childless baker and his wife. A witch promises to lift their curse of infertility if they can 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.”

Thompson plays the rambunctious young Jack, joined by charming bovine puppetry.

“It’s really so much fun because Jack is so childlike and energetic,” Thompson said. “It’s fun to just get up on stage and run around and interact with Milky White, who is Jack’s cow. In this production, it’s this big puppet and it’s always so fun to interact with that.”

Beyond the cow, the scenic design is very minimalistic with the orchestra on stage.

“Our set is stripped down because we started at New York City Encores, a concert series with minimal sets focused on staging, actors and music,” Thompson said. “We have trees that represent the woods scattered around the stage. It’s really one backdrop; we have a moon that comes in and out and a backdrop that can be a bunch of different colors.”

Elevating James Lapine’s book is the iconic score by Sondheim, including such memorable songs as “Giants in the Sky,” “No One Is Alone” and “Children Will Listen.”

“‘Giants in the Sky’ is just one example where so much is being said in such a short amount of time, I feel like I’m spewing words,” Thompson said. “I’ve been listening to this show since I was in middle school, and even now when I’m listening backstage, I still hear new little nuances or instruments in songs I haven’t heard before. His music is so dense!”

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WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Into the Woods' at Kennedy Center (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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