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Review Roundup: INTO THE WOODS Opens at New York City Center Encores!

Neil Patrick Harris plays The Baker in a cast that also features Sara Bareilles, Denée Benton, Gavin Creel, Jordan Donica, Annie Golden, and more.

Review Roundup: INTO THE WOODS Opens at New York City Center Encores!

The New York City Center Encores! production of Into the Woods, which opened on May 4, is set to run through May 15. Directed by Encores! Artistic Director Lear deBessonet with music direction by Encores! Music Director Rob Berman and choreography by Lorin Latarro, the special two week run of Into the Woods is dedicated to the memory of the legendary Stephen Sondheim.

Neil Patrick Harris plays The Baker in a cast that also features Sara Bareilles, Denée Benton, Gavin Creel, Jordan Donica, Annie Golden, Albert Guerzon, Ann Harada, Heather Headley, Tiffany Denise Hobbs, Brooke Ishibashi, Kennedy Kanagawa, David Patrick Kelly, Julia Lester, Lauren Mitchell, Shereen Pimentel, Cole Thompson, and David Turner. Joining the company for a finale that highlights the ways theater connects us across time is a 72 person, multigenerational community chorus of New York City seniors and public school students from City Center's Education Department partners, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, Louis Armstrong Middle School, and Rosie's Theater Kids.

See what the critics are saying...

Alexis Soloski, The New York Times: The night I saw it, not all of that singing was precisely on key, and the child nearest me overacted wretchedly. But I found myself crying without really knowing why. For the child I was, I suppose. And the child I am. And the mother now, also. I listened. I am still listening. You should, too.

Elysa Gardner, The New York Sun: Yet some of the most winning performances in this "Into the Woods" are delivered by younger and less established players. Julia Lester is a deliciously droll Little Red Ridinghood, and Cole Thompson is brightly endearing as Jack, that famous beanstalk climber. As Rapunzel, Shereen Pimentel, whose glorious lyric soprano graced Broadway only briefly before her star turn in the most recent Broadway revival of "West Side Story" was cut short by the Covid shutdown, gets to bring it back in full force.

Juan A. Ramirez, Theatrely: Here, Encores! artistic director Lear deBessonet takes tight hold of her reins, placing a handful of microphones downstage and having her ensemble deliver this topsy-turvy story of fairy tales mixed and matched and gone wrong without much fuss. David Rockwell's simple set of birch trees woven through steps that double as palace stairwells and woodsy terrain, Andrea Hood's winning Grimm-like costumes, and James Ortiz' excellent puppet design (never has a cow looked so sad or so dead), set a comfortable stage for homage to be paid to the late Sondheim's brilliance. The cast is stacked and uniformly terrific.

Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review: After viewing The Tap Dance Kid and The Life-two flawed musicals which were not improved by the Encores artistic staff-some long-time subscribers might have questioned whether they want to return next February for more of the same. They will likely leave City Center beaming, their faith conditionally restored. Into the Woods, which is playing an expanded two-week run, indicates that there is a way forward for the new leadership of Encores.

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