Days in the Woods

By Bell, John | The Sondheim Review, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Days in the Woods

Bell, John, The Sondheim Review

Reminiscences from Into the Woods' early days

Having been introduced to Stephen Sondheim's music while performing in a revue of his songs in college, I wrote a fan letter and sent it to Broadway's Booth Theatre during the run of Sunday in the Park with George, hoping it might find its way to him. Lo and behold, a few weeks later I received a short note from Sondheim telling me he was flattered by my remarks and inviting me to New York to meet with him - which I did.

Two years later, I flew to San Diego to begin graduate study in musical theatre at San Diego State University. The day I got off the plane, I read a newspaper announcement that Sondheim and James Lapine would be in San Diego for a pre-Broadway run of their new musical, Into the Woods, at the Old Globe Theatre. Needing a professional internship as a requirement for my graduate program, I asked Sondheim if I could intern for him. He politely reported that since his work was so personal, he didn't take on interns. But he suggested there might be another department at the theatre with which I could work and get access to the production process. I took his advice and, although the administration at the Globe was pretty tight-lipped about the production, when I mentioned my interest in writing and teaching, they connected me with their education department. I was eventually approved to serve an internship helping to construct a 45-minute presentation about Into the Woods that would tour local schools. As part of my internship, I was permitted to attend rehearsals. What follows are selected entries from a casual journal I kept in late 1986 and early 1987. In hindsight, this experience stands out as one of my most palpable learning experiences. Even as a mere observer - or maybe because of it - I learned more about the development of a new musical than I could have ever imagined. And when I attend a production of Into the Woods, I remember those formative weeks at the Old Globe Theatre and marvel at the process and the creativity involved. (These entries are in chronological order, although I failed to record the dates precisely.)

Early November 1986. Today the company of Into the Woods, led by director and librettist James Lapine, arrived. They were welcomed by Old Globe Artistic Director Jack O'Brien who reported that all rehearsals would be closed. Glad I had already been approved for the internship. Sondheim did not come with the company. He's to arrive at a later date. James Lapine introduced his cast to the Old Globe staff. They all seem like fun people. Rehearsals begin tomorrow. from class today. Rehearsal was already in progress. Sure enough, there was someone out in the lobby restricting entrance. At first, he didn't know who I was and wouldn't let me in but when he checked with the Education Department he added me to the list and let me in. Rehearsal was fascinating. From the little bit I saw, the piece has a very contemporary tone. This is particularly true of Little Red Riding Hood and the Baker's Wife. Both are a bit sassy and snide. The Educational Department got a copy of the working script, and I can't wait to read it.

Early November. Chip Zien [the Baker] and Joanna Gleason [the Baker's Wife] are wonderful. There's also a young guy, Ben Wright, who plays Jack. He seems a bit nervous, but I can tell he's going to be real good in the role. I think this may be his first big show. I also recognize Barbara Bryne from Sunday in the Park with George. She's hilarious as Jack's Mother. Paul Gemignani, the musical director, is working the music in another room, so I haven't really been able to observe much of that part of the process. Too bad; that's the stuff I really want to see. Next week, they'll start integrating music and scene work in the theatre. I can't wait for that.

Mid-November. Observing this process is fascinating. Every day scenes are being added and deleted. Today the Three Little Pigs were cut. And I hear the title of the show keeps bouncing back and forth from Into the Woods to Our of the Woods.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Days in the Woods


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.