Album Review: Into the Woods soundtrack

“Let the moment go, don’t forget it for a moment though”

The big screen version of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods has now become a huge box office success, apparently heralding a new golden age of movie musicals, and as a musical it comes complete with a soundtrack which you can get in either single-disc or deluxe-double-disc edition.

The main reason to get this soundtrack would be to get Emily Blunt’s gorgeous renditions of her songs. Her voice was an absolute revelation in the film and she brings such character to The Baker’s Wife that is just irresistible – she nails all the emotional colour of ‘Moments in the Woods’ and blows James Corden off the turntable with her wondrous delight in ‘It Takes Two’. I remain a fan of Anna Kendrick’s Cinderella and Meryl Streep’s Witch is also good, solid rather than spectacular if we’re being picky, in her solo moments. Continue reading “Album Review: Into the Woods soundtrack”

Film Review: Into the Woods

“Into the woods to see the King, to sell the cow, to make the potion”

After the Oscar-winning success of Chicago, it is little surprise that Rob Marshall keeps returning to the world of musical theatre for his films and it is now the turn of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods to get the full cinematic treatment. The story pulls together a whole raft of characters from various fairytales and asks the question ‘what happens after happy ever after?’. So we meet familiar characters like Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack on their respective journeys but keep on following them deeper into the woods as they’re forced to deal with the consequences of their actions.

So Cinderella has to deal with the fact she’s married to a man she barely knows, Jack is called out for thieving so many of the Giant’s possession back down the beanstalk and so on, and the characters also crash into each other’s stories too, further muddying the waters. At the heart of the film is the Baker and his wife whose desperation for a child is a key contributing factor to the chaos that emerges and Marshall manages to keep the strands of this multi-threaded story clear and comprehensible – the staging is rarely audaciously exciting but the lack of tricksiness actually works in the film’s favour. 

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Review: My City, Almeida

“It can be hard to find an ex-teacher”

Opening with a chance encounter with a former teacher by St Paul’s Cathedral, Stephen Poliakoff’s My City is his first work for the stage in over a decade. But its opening promise of delving into the mysterious hidden depths of a city we think we know so well with the added spice of revisiting mythic childhood teachers outside of the familiar context of the classroom now they are retired is never really fully realised. Poliakoff directs his own work at the Almeida and has secured the return of Tracey Ullman to the stage to play Miss Lambert, the former Headmistress who is found sleeping on a park bench.

Former pupil Richard is the one who finds her and we find out that she has taken to exploring the streets of London at night-time now she is retired and her gift for story-telling that so captivated her pupils remains strong as ever. This in turn prompts a series of renewed contacts which brings in his old school-friend Julie and two more of their teachers. Richard can tell that someone is not quite right with his childhood heroine though and as he seeks to get to the truth of Miss Lambert’s behaviour, he uncovers a world of secrets, lies, disillusionments and memories from all five of them. Continue reading “Review: My City, Almeida”