Show History



Into the Woods draws plot lines and characters from a variety of Brothers Grimm fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk. James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim were drawn by the true morals of the main characters of these stories. However, they found that the stories were all very short and, rather than creating an entirely new tale or trying to expand material for just one story, they created the characters of the Baker and his Wife. They aimed to make the first act about each character's individual quest, and the second act about the consequences of their actions and coming together as a community. Sondheim also claims that he drew on parts of his troubled childhood, using his parents as the basis for characters like the Baker and Jack's Mother.

Over its history, the script has been tweaked for certain productions. The original San Diego production included a story line about the Three Little Pigs and was eventually cut, but then brought back for the 2002 Broadway revival. The original London production added "Our Little World," a duet between the Witch and Rapunzel, which was included in many subsequent productions. The recent Public Theatre production removed the character of Cinderella's Father.


Into the Woods, with book by James Lapine and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, premiered in San Diego, California, at the Old Globe Theatre on December 4, 1986. It ran for 50 performances.

The musical later opened on Broadway on November 5, 1987, at the Martin Beck Theatre. The production closed on September 3, 1989, after 765 shows, although most of the original cast reunited for a tenth anniversary benefit performance on November 9, 1997. A national tour ran across the United States from November 1988 to September 1989, with a longer residency at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

The original West End production opened at the Phoenix Theatre on September 25, 1990, and ran for nearly 200 performances. A London revival opened on November 16, 1998, running for only three months.

In the new millennium, the musical has seen a significant number of revivals: Los Angeles in early 2002 (before moving to the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway), the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in June 2007 and the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre of England in a six-week limited engagement, which performed in an actual forest. This particular production transferred to the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park series in New York's Central Park for a limited run in the summer of 2012.

Throughout the years, the musical has been performed in theatres across the United States (including Puerto Rico), London, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Singapore.

Cultural Influence

  • Both the original Broadway cast and the 2010 Regent Park production were video recorded. The former was first broadcast on public television before being released on DVD, while the latter was released for public download through Digital Theatre.
  • Walt Disney Pictures released a film adaptation of Into the Woods in December of 2014.