Stephen Sondheim (b. 1935) is a New York native and one of the most celebrated composers of musical theatre. He began his career under the mentorship of Oscar Hammerstein II, one of the great names of 20th century Broadway. Sondheim got an early career break writing the lyrics for Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story in 1957. He has since had a distinguished career that has encompassed almost two dozen musicals, many of which have been made into films, including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), A Little Night Music (1973), Sweeney Todd (1979), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), and Into the Woods (1986). He has won more Tony Awards (8) than any other composer.
Into the Woods, with music by Sondheim and book and lyrics by James Lapine, debuted on Broadway in 1987. It tells the story of a childless Baker and the Baker’s Wife, who are cursed by an evil Witch. Their adventures intersect several fairy tale stories by the Brothers Grimm, including Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack and the Beanstalk. The original production won Tony Awards for Best Original Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason). The musical has been revived several times around the world. In 2014, it was released as a movie version by the Walt Disney company.
Stephen Bulla’s band arrangement of Selections from Into the Woods covers four of the numbers from the musical, including “Into the Woods,” “No One Is Alone,” “I Know Things Now,” and “Children Will Listen.” Here it is in live performance:
To give you an idea of the visuals, here is a preview reel from the Public Theater‘s production in 2012. This also includes a substantial portion of the song “Into the Woods” that opens the medley:
Here is “No One Is Alone” from a 1989 PBS special that filmed the original Broadway production:
Next, “I Know Things Now” from the 2014 Disney movie version:
Finally, “Children Will Listen” sung in concert by Bernadette Peters, one of the great Sondheim interpreters and Into the Woods‘s original Broadway Witch:
Bonus: my personal favorite song from the musical, which did not make the Selections: “Agony!”