Last Saturday I saw what may be the 6th or 7th production of Stephen Sondheim’s INTO THE WOODS I’ve seen, including various college and highschool productions over the years and Rob Marshall’s gorgeous filmed version, now in theatres. This Fiasco Theater production was presented by Roundabout in their intimate Laura Pels Theatre. Fiasco seems to be a group of recent graduates of Brown University’s MFA Program. And their approach to this piece was bare bones, back to basics, emphasis on audience imagination over costly spectacle.
First of all, I LOVED this production. And at first, I wasn’t sure I would at all because the instrumentation used by Fiasco is so very stripped down that I often found myself missing Sondheim’s full voicing of certain complex harmonies. Especially when songs were accompanied only on guitar, I found myself straining to imagine the full chords underneath. However, within minutes, I forgot all of that and found myself drawn in – quite possibly more deeply than ever before – into the humanity of the show.
But here’s what surprised me and what I’m stuck pondering.