Warning: The first (title) track on the Into the Woods album will get into your head and stay there. Seriously, I can’t stop singing it and now everyone else I know is too!
The first track is also one of the longest – it’s almost 15 minutes long. It sets the scene(s) and introduces us to most of the characters and what they’re wishing for. As I mentioned, it’s ridiculously catchy and although it is a little bit twinkly, I love it. It’s one of only a few tracks on the album that I’d listen to on its own.
It is a bit odd that the narrator no longer exists and is in fact now the Baker (James Corden). While this does work, in this song it’s a shame that they’re not two separate characters and Corden might have been better suited to playing the narrator only as his speaking voice is much stronger than his singing.
Johnny Depp’s caramel voice suits the wolf’s song Hello, Little Girl very well, as he manages to combine sexy and creepy in a bizarre way that works – it’s both appealing and frightening.
I thought Lilla Crawford (Red Riding Hood) might sound a bit whiney on the soundtrack but she’s actually got a lovely voice and for such a young girl she manages to pour a lot of emotion and humour into her singing. So too does Anna Kendrick as Cinderella and unlike Pitch Perfect she really gets to show off her range, especially in On the Steps of the Palace and No One is Alone.
We’ve all heard Meryl Streep sing before, but it’s on this soundtrack that we really hear her voice and the song Stay with Me is heartfelt and passionate. She really gives it everything she’s got throughout the musical and it’s very impressive, although she’s not quite Bernadette Peters.
I’m not convinced by Daniel Huttlestone, yes he can sing, but he doesn’t seem able to distinguish his character of Gavroche from Jack and in Giants in the Sky he still sounds like he wants to lead a revolution and I just find his voice a bit annoying.
The biggest surprise of the soundtrack is Emily Blunt. I’m a huge admirer of her as an actress but had no idea she could sing and her voice is perfect for the Baker’s Wife. After the song Any Moment (sung surprisingly well by Chris Pine), she gets her own chance to shine in Moments in the Woods.
The soundtrack includes a fair amount of dialogue so you can follow the story easily enough without the film. The orchestra really helps the songs to build and adds far more emphasis than you might perhaps get in a theatre with fewer musicians. Plus the cast’s voices are actually good, even though they can’t really be compared to the original Broadway cast. However, Sondheim’s songs are beautiful and fans of the musical won’t be disappointed.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes
Take a look at Michaela’s recent interview with the creative team from Into The Woods
Read my review of the Into The Woods film here