PBS v. Disney, Peters v. Streep, Gleason v. Blunt. We’ve all been clamouring for it. Which performance of Into the Woods songs is the best? I’m comparing the PBS American Playhouse version, which included most of the original Broadway cast and aired on PBS in 1991, with the 2014 film adaptation. The PBS version is a filmed stage production, in front of an audience. The 2014 film was produced by Walt Disney Pictures, and directed by Rob Marshall, a Broadway choreographer turned film director (he directed Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, among other things). 10 rounds. No holds barred. Eternal bragging rights on the line. Let’s get ready to ruuuuuuuumble!
Round One: “Act I Prologue: Into the Woods”
If we’re talking staging, the movie version takes this, although the stage production is impressive given the limitations of a stage set. But of course we’re not only talking about staging. Here, we must consider every word of this fantastic introduction to the musical, and unfortunately, Meryl Streep hams her way through a good portion of the movie version, and it’s a little hard to listen to.
The Winner: PBS American Playhouse Version
Favourite Lyric: “We’ve no time to sit and dither/While her withers wither with her” – Jack’s Mother