There is something about dining at the Hollywood Bowl on a balmy, summer night while listening to music under the stars that is so uniquely “L.A.”, especially when you realize you are sharing the experience with 17,000 fellow Angelenos. And so it was Friday evening for the opening night of a fully staged concert version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into The Woods”, which continues through the weekend.
The cast was star-studded and did not disappoint. Crowd favorite, Gaten Matarazzo, of “Stranger Things” fame, was a wide-eyed and earnest Jack. Most fans were probably unaware of Matarazzo’s Broadway chops which included a critically acclaimed run as Gavroche in Les Miserables. He more than held his own with some of the other heavy hitters on stage. Broadway and West End veteran, Sierra Boggess showed why she is known as the best Christine in Phantom ever, as she beautifully interpreted “On The Steps of The Palace” as Cinderella.
Both Skylar Astin as the Baker and the delightful Sutton Foster as the Baker’s Wife have voices that are perfectly suited to Sondheim and had great chemistry together. Sutton’s steamy and hilarious scene with Cheyenne Jackson’s prince is one of the evening’s highlights. Jackson is ridiculously handsome which works to his advantage as the shallow prince and he hits all the comedic moments to hysterical effect. He also gets to have a ball chewing the scenery as the Big Bad Wolf.
Anchoring the show is the formidable performance of Patina Miller. If you only know her from her role on “Madam Secretary” then her performance as the Witch was a revelation. Miller won a Tony for her role as Leading Player in the 2013 revival of Pippin and watching her perform, we see why. She has this fabulous, retro kind of Eartha Kitt vibe along with a gorgeous voice and slinky moves that absolutely dazzle. Her energy took the whole endeavor to the next, chill inducing level. When she sings “Children Will Listen”, all 17,000 of us were indeed listening and in these times, the lyrics took on the deepest of meaning.
Tickets available at hollywoodbowl.com or at the box office at The Hollywood Bowl.