In anticipation of the movie, “Into the Woods” soundtrack reviewed by Addie Clark
I am, admittedly, a musical theatre nerd. But not living near New York, I get my musical theatre exposure in a limited number of ways: filmed stage productions, local productions, touring productions, and movie adaptations. When Disney announced a movie adaptation of “Into the Woods” I was a very excited nerd – another musical I’d never seen (at least at the time they announced it) to cross off my musical bucket list.
When the cast was announced, I started to get just a little nervous. The most recent decade or so of movie musicals have seen an outbreak of casting a big star for selling power that actually are less than great singers (Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia!, Alan Rickman in Sweeney Todd, and Russell Crowe in Les Mis, to name a few). There were untested talents in the cast (at least I’d never heard them sing) like Emily Blunt and James Corden and Chris Pine. And it’s Sondheim, which means the songs aren’t going to work unless you can actually sing, so even the actors I’d heard sing, but weren’t Broadway trained, had me nervous.
So Monday, when the soundtrack for Into the Woods hit shelves, I was apprehensive. In between Disney announcing the film and now I have seen a stage production, so I had some ideas of what the story was and what it should sound like. I also had acquired the original Broadway recording. But I went ahead and bought the soundtrack. The behind the scenes videos I’d seen online were encouraging and I was anxious for a listen. I let it download but then forgot about it, went about my day.
But that night, I came back and I pressed play. And for the entire first track I was confused. It was good. It sounded as good as any recording I’d heard and as good as the production I’d seen. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, I’m not going to give anything away, but the opening song kind of sets up the whole story and the majority of the cast participates in it in some form, including James Corden and Emily Blunt, who I’d had doubts about. So I got to hear most the singers and was impressed, to say the least. But as I continued to listen, I still found myself apprehensive. I kept waiting for the shoe to drop…eventually I was going to get to the “Stars” on the Les Mis soundtrack that had completely deflated me two years ago…surely someone wouldn’t live up to their casting. There had to be a weak link.
I got to “Hello Little Girl”, which is Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf’s big song, and he sounded even better than he did in Sweeney Todd seven years ago. I continued to listen, enjoying every moment, and finally arrived at the song I’d been most concerned about since I saw it on stage: Agony. This is Prince Charming’s song and I was still unconvinced Chris Pine could sing. All I can say is, I’ve never been happier to be wrong.
Into the Woods opens on Christmas Day, but Main Streeters, I highly recommend looking into getting a copy of the soundtrack. There is a regular version with the songs and a Two-disc deluxe edition, which also includes the instrumental incidental music. You’re bound to be as impressed as I am…unless you don’t want to be spoiled. Then maybe wait till you see the movie…
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