A Baker and his wife, Cinderella, Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, and even the Witch all wish for something, but they must learn the responsibility that comes with getting what you want in the Tony Award-winning musical Into the Woods.
This special two-week run of Into the Woods, directed by Encores! Artistic Director Lear deBessonet, will honor the memory of legendary composer Stephen Sondheim. The star-studded cast includes Sara Bareilles as the Baker’s Wife, Denée Benton as Cinderella, Gavin Creel as the Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince, Jordan Donica as Rapunzel’s Prince, Ta’Nika Gibson as Lucinda, Annie Golden as Cinderella’s Mother/Grandmother/Giant’s Wife, Albert Guerzon as Cinderella’s Father, Ann Harada as Jack’s Mother, Neil Patrick Harris as the Baker, Heather Headley as the Witch, Brooke Ishibashi as Florinda, Kennedy Kanagawa as Milky White, David Patrick Kelly as the Narrator/Mysterious Man, Julia Lester as Little Red Riding Hood, Lauren Mitchell as Cinderella’s Stepmother, Shereen Pimentel as Rapunzel, Cole Thompson as Jack, and David Turner as the Steward.
The production ushers in a new Encores! tradition, celebrating the community-building potential of iconic American musicals. A multigenerational community chorus of New York City seniors and public-school students rounds out the ensemble for a finale that highlights the many ways theater connects us across time.
Into the Woods features choreography by Lorin Latarro and Rob Berman leading The Encores! Orchestra in his final production as Encores! Music Director.
Into the Woods is part of the 2022 Encores! season, our beloved, Tony-honored series of revivals celebrating American musical theater—now in its 28th year.
Casting and programming subject to change.
SARA BAREILLES (Baker’s Wife) has received two Tony Award nominations, three Primetime Emmy Award nominations, and seven Grammy Award nominations, garnering a 2020 Grammy in the category of “Best American Roots Performance” for Saint Honesty. On Broadway, she composed music and lyrics for Waitress, electrifying the stage as the lead in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. She was nominated for an Emmy for her appearance as Mary Magdalene in NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live. Bareilles contributed original music and executive produced the musical drama series Little Voice, teaming up with Jessie Nelson, J.J. Abrams, and Apple. She currently co-stars in the critically acclaimed Girls5Eva (Peacock)set to return for its second season in 2022. Deeply moved to give back to her community, she has actively supported organizations such as Save The Music Foundation, Music Cares, Rock N Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles, The Actors Fund, BCEFA, Covenant House, Color of Change, the NAACP and many more.
DENÉE BENTON (Cinderella) is a Tony Award-nominated actress who stars in the critically acclaimed HBO series, The Gilded Age. She will begin filming Season 2 this summer. On stage, Benton most recently starred as “Eliza” in Broadway’s Hamilton and as “Natasha” in the Broadway production of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. Benton was nominated for the 2017 Tony Award, Drama League Distinguished Performance Award, Theatre World Award, and Lilly Award for the latter.
GAVIN CREEL (Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf) Broadway: Hello, Dolly! (Tony Award), Hair (Tony Nomination), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Tony Nomination), Waitress, The Book of Mormon, She Loves Me, La Cage Aux Folles. West End: The Book of Mormon (Olivier Award), Hair, Waitress, Mary Poppins. TV: American Horror Stories, Eloise at Christmastime, PBS Stars on Stage. Original Recordings: GoodTimeNation, Quiet, Get Out. Creel is a Hermitage Fellow, currently writing a theatre piece inspired by The Met Museum entitled, Walk On Through.
JORDAN DONICA (Rapunzel’s Prince) is currently starring in the fourth season of the CW’s Charmed. Broadway: My Fair Lady (Freddy Eynsford-Hill) and The Phantom of the Opera (Raoul). Tour: 1st National (SF/LA), Hamilton (Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson). Concerts: Washington National Opera, Pasadena, Indianapolis Symphony and Lincoln Center Theater’s Camelot. Featured performer at the American Songbook Hall of Fame. Directing: The Exonerated, in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions, Little Prints by Anna Mulhall. Writing: Bully. “Every day is a gift.”
TA’NIKA GIBSON (Lucinda) Broadway: Ain’t Too Proud (Diana Ross u/s), Oklahoma! (Laurey) Dreamgirls (Lorell), The Wiz (Dorothy), Aida (Aida). Encores!: Me and My Girl, Call Me Madam, I Married an Angel, High Button Shoes. “Debbie Allen” in Winning Time (HBO). Thank you to GOD, Lakey Wolff, Thomas Green, Mitch Bukhar (CAA), Mom, Dad, Telsey, Patty Forbes, and Aaron Cooker. @tanika_renee_gibson
ANNIE GOLDEN (Grandmother/Cinderella’s Mother/Giant’s Wife) Discovered on the Bowery fronting a rock band/cast by Milos Forman as Jeannie in Hair, the 1978 film. Some Broadway credits include: Violet, Xanadu, The Full Monty, Ah! Wilderness. Recently: Broadway Bounty Hunter Off-Broadway. Was Sondheim’s original Squeaky Fromme in Assassins (Playwrights Horizons). Numerous Film/TV credits, most notably her role as Norma Romano in the hit series Orange Is the New Black for Lionsgate/Netflix and recurring on Fox’s Filthy Rich.
ALBERT GUERZON (Cinderella’s Father) is grateful to be back at City Center after just being here with The Life. Broadway credits include: Mamma Mia!, Ghost, Honeymoon In Vegas, Escape to Margaritaville. Off Bway: The Visitor. National tours: Mamma Mia!, …Margaritaville. Other favorites: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (LJP), The Wiz (LJP), TwylaTharp’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ (WorldPremiere, Old Globe), Smokey Joes Café (ACT of CT), Here Lies Love (NY Workshops). Humbled and honored to be here! Thank you WAM FAM. LOVE YOU ES!
ANN HARADA (Jack’s Mother) played Christmas Eve in the Broadway and West End productions of Avenue Q and stepsister Charlotte in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Other Broadway: Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables (revival), 9 to 5, Seussical, and M. Butterfly. Recent Off-Broadway: Fairycakes, Emojiland, Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson, Pacific Overtures. Film: soon to be released Disenchanted and Jerry and Marge Go Large, Sisters, Trouble, Youth in Oregon, Admission, Hope Springs, Feel, Happiness. TV includes: Schmigadoon!, Blue Bloods, The Flight Attendant, New Amsterdam, Gotham, Smash (as Linda, the Stage Manager), The Good Wife, House of Cards, Master of None, The Jim Gaffigan Show, Search Party, Younger. Twitter: @annharada IG: @iamannharada
NEIL PATRICK HARRIS (Baker) originated the role of Hedwig in the Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Tony, Drama League, and Drama Desk Awards). His Sondheim work includes Assassins (Studio 54), Company (New York Philharmonic), Sweeney Todd (NY Phil, San Francisco Symphony), and Evening Primrose (Album, 2001). Other theatre credits: Proof (Walter Kerr Theatre), Cabaret (Studio 54), All My Sons (Geffen Theater), Tick, Tick…BOOM! (Menier Chocolate Factory) Romeo and Juliet (Old Globe Theater), and Rent (La Jolla/Los Angeles). Recent onscreen gigs: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, The Matrix 4, and It’s A Sin for HBO Max and Britain’s Channel 4. Harris won four Emmy Awards as host of the Tony Awards (and a fifth for Glee!). He was Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother on CBS, Doogie Howser, M.D. on VHS, and Dr. Horrible online. Special thanks to David Burtka, his Baker’s Husband and Chip Zien, his Baker’s Icon.
HEATHER HEADLEY (Witch) Tony and Grammy Award winner Heather Headley considers her multi-faceted career a blessing. She was born and spent most of her childhood on the island of Trinidad. In 1997, Headley won the role of Nala in the original Broadway cast of the Elton John and Tim Rice’s hit Tony-winning musical The Lion King. While still in The Lion King, Headley was asked to audition for the title role in Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida. Her portrayal of the Nubian princess, Aida, won her the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. In addition to other awards, she also received the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. In 2009 Headley released Audience of One, for which she won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album. In 2016 Heather made a triumphant return to Broadway playing Shug Avery in The Color Purple.
BROOKE ISHIBASHI (Florinda) Recent: developed and originated "Neary" in Cambodian Rock Band (South Coast Repertory, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse), To the Yellow House (La Jolla Playhouse). National Councilor, Actors' Equity Association; Fair Wage Onstage core member; NYCLU Artist Ambassador; co-founder of Be An #ArtsHero/Arts Workers United. Arts & culture contributes $919 billion+ to the U.S. economy and employs 5.2 million+ arts workers. There is no American economic recovery without an arts & culture recovery. BeAnArtsHero.com
KENNEDY KANAGAWA (Milky White) is beyond thrilled to be making his New York City Center debut! Recent credits include: Last Ship to Proxima Centauri (Portland Stage); Gold Mountain (Utah Shakespeare Festival); Saturday Night (2nd Stage); Adventurephile (Keen Company) Beautiful Thing (Plays in the House); Decky Does a Bronco (Royal Family Theater); Lolita, My Love (York Theatre Company); Dinner with Georgette (New York Theatre Workshop Next Door) The Good Swimmer (BAM). kennedykanagawa.com
DAVID PATRICK KELLY (Narrator/Mysterious Man) Broadway: Therese Raquin, Uncle Vanya, Once, Twelfth Night, The Government Inspector, Working. Select Off-Broadway: Miss You Like Hell, Everybody, When I Come to Die, The Glorious Ones, Ghosts, Kit Marlowe, Lobster Alice. TV: Ray Donovan, Twin Peaks, Succession, Feed the Beast, The Blacklist, Gossip Girl and others. Film: Asking For It, Fugitive Dreams, VFW, O.G., John Wick, Flags of Our Fathers, Chi-Raq, The Longest Yard, Last Man Standing, Flirting with Disaster, The Crow, Malcolm X and The Warriors. Obie Award for Sustained Excellence.
JULIA LESTER (Little Red Ridinghood) is so excited to be making her New York theatre debut with Encores! Regional: Calvin Berger (Bret), Next to Normal (Natalie), Joseph...Dreamcoat (u/s Narrator). TV: Best known for her current role as “Ashlyn” on the Disney+ original series, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA. "For my sisters." @julialester
LAUREN MITCHELL (Cinderella’s Stepmother) was in the original Broadway cast of Into the Woods (and PBS American Playhouse) as wicked stepsister, Lucinda. As a theater producer, on Broadway: Matilda, Jersey Boys, A Bronx Tale, Summer, Jesus Christ Superstar (’12 revival), Farnsworth Invention, Urinetown, Into the Woods (‘02 revival), Wrong Mountain, High Society. As an actor, on Broadway: Nine, Me and My Girl, Boys From Syracuse, Annie, City of Angels (LA), Into the Woods. She is currently Executive VP, Content for Broadway’s Dodgers. She is honored and grateful to return to the Woods.
SHEREEN PIMENTEL (Rapunzel) was last seen in the 2020 Broadway revival of West Side Story as Maria. This promising young soprano was recognized for her outstanding performance as an Outer Critics Circle honoree for Best Actress in a Musical. Pimentel started performing professionally at the very young age of nine, when she debuted on Broadway as Young Nala in The Lion King. Her recent concert performances include Playbill’s Curtains Up Festival, The Show Must Go On at Majestic Theater, and the 54 Below performance of Write out Loud. Her screen credits include John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch on Netflix. Pimentel is a 2020 graduate from the Juilliard School with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance.
COLE THOMPSON (Jack) is thrilled to be making his New York debut with City Center Encores! Readings/Workshops: BLISS (dir. Sheryl Kaller). Regional: Weston Playhouse, Connecticut Repertory Theatre. Thompson is a proud graduate of The University of Michigan’s Musical Theatre program. He’d like to thank his friends and family for their constant love and support! @_cole__thompson
DAVID TURNER (Steward) Broadway: The Invention of Love, In My Life, The Ritz, Sunday in the Park with George (both 2008 and 2017), Arcadia, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, The Boys in the Band. TV: The Good Wife (CBS), Lipstick Jungle (NBC), The Leftovers (HBO), The Get Down (Netflix), Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon), Servant (Apple+). Film: A Marriage Story. Turner is also a commercial pilot who provides free medical transportation to patients in need with Angel Flight.
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Scenic Designer David Rockwell
Costume Designer Andrea Hood
Lighting Designer Tyler Micoleau
Sound Designers Scott Lehrer & Alex Neumann
Puppet Designer James Ortiz
Hair, Wig & Makeup Designer Cookie Jordan
Casting by The Telsey Office
Choreography by Lorin Latarro
Featuring The Encores! Orchestra
Music Director Rob Berman
Directed by Lear deBessonet
Featuring Sara Bareilles, Denée Benton, Gavin Creel, Jordan Donica, Ta’Nika Gibson, Annie Golden, Albert Guerzon, Ann Harada, Neil Patrick Harris, Heather Headley, Brooke Ishibashi, Kennedy Kanagawa, David Patrick Kelly, Julia Lester, Lauren Mitchell, Shereen Pimentel, Cole Thompson, and David Turner
Jason Forbach (swing), Cameron Johnson (swing), Mary Kate Moore (swing)
Encores! Artistic Leadership
Lear deBessonet | Artistic Director
Rob Berman | Music Director
Clint Ramos | Producing Creative Director
Josh Clayton | Supervisor of Music Administration & Score Restoration
Adrian Alea | Creative Associate
Camille A. Brown, Eisa Davis, and Robert O'Hara
Producer of Musical Theater
For nearly 30 years we’ve watched our Encores! series bring a community together through a shared love of song and dance. Now there has never been a more important time to return this flagship program, like a beacon of hope, back to our New York community. Please consider making a gift today to support this beloved series.
Leadership Support for Encores!
Stacey and Eric Mindich Fund for Musical Theater
Major Support for Encores! is provided by
Encores! Season Sponsors
Roz and Jerry Meyer
The Shubert Foundation
Stephanie and Fred Shuman Fund for Encores!
Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Charitable Trust
Major Support for Into the Woods is provided by
Estate of Douglas S. Cramer, Jr.
John and Margot Ernst
The Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund
Additional Support for Into the Woods is provided by
Marta Heflin Foundation
Additional support for Encores! is provided by
The Kaplen Brothers Fund
The Frederick Loewe Foundation
Daryl and Steven Roth
The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc.
The SHS Foundation
The Ted Snowdon Foundation
Production videography by Bardo Arts/Alex Pearlman
Production photos by Joan Marcus
Art by Ben Wiseman
ANNUAL GALA PRESENTATION | PARADE
Nov 1 – 6, 2022