“Lightning in a Bottle”: Broadway Goes Back Into the Woods

Directed by Lear de Bessonet, choreographed by Lorin Latarro, and music directed by Rob Berman, this highly anticipated revival wasn’t brought about with magic beans. It’s all thanks to May’s sold-out, critically acclaimed Encores! concert production of Into the Woods at New York City Center that starred Bareilles, Neil Patrick Harris, and Heather Headley. The minute the overture began, Jordan Roth, president of the Jujamcyn Theaters, knew that Into the Woods needed a Broadway run. “[It] was actually a feeling I had before I saw it, and it was confirmed in the first notes of music,” Roth says. “This is a show with a direct line to our heart like nothing else really.”

Roth was on a mission to find the production a summer home on Broadway. Now, Roth is producing the revival alongside Hunter Arnold, Jessica R. Jenen, Jon B. Platt, Nicole Eisenberg, Daryl Roth, Jujamcyn Theaters, Michael Cassel Group, and ShowTown Productions. Even before the transfer was announced, rumors spread throughout the city that the musical was finally coming back to Broadway. “I started hearing whispering in that first week,” says Creel, who played the Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince at Encores! “They did this so quickly. Jordan Roth is the reason.”

Gavin Creel and Phillipa Soo

By Emilio Madrid.

But as Sondheim wrote, sometimes people leave you halfway through the woods. A few members of the Encores! cast—including Harris, Headley, and Gilded Age star Denee Benton who played Cinderella—were not available for the eight-week Broadway production. So Roth—in tandem with Encores! and Telsey + Company—dove into the Rolodex of exceptional theater actors and tried to make lightning strike twice.

Joshua Henry—who takes over the role of Rapunzel’s Prince from Jordan Donica—was initially disappointed that he wasn’t going to get a chance to see Into the Woods at Encores! “Now I’m really glad that I didn’t, because I get to discover everything new for me,” he says. Tony nominated and acclaimed for dramatic roles in shows like The Scottsboro Boys, The Tap Dance Kid, and Carousel, Henry is excited to showcase his softer side as one of Into the Woods’ two princes. “I’m excited to show this side of myself even more because my friends know me as this funny guy,” he says. “With Gavin, it’s just doubly silly and in some ways over the top, but still sincere.”

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