The Baker and The Baker’s Wife in Stephen Sondheim‘s Into the Woods the Musical prove to be an interesting couple, to say the least, and the original actors do not fall short of displaying that.
Comparing and Contrasting The Baker and the Baker’s Wife
The Baker and Baker’s Wife are prominent characters in this musical, and despite being married, they could not be any further different. Both of them want the same goal- to get the ingredients for a spell for the witch, so that the witch will lift the spell on the Baker, so that they can have a child.
However, they both have vastly different morals and personalities. This causes them to go about the objective in different ways and thus causes the actors to make very big and very different choices as their character. These differences are easily seen very early on in the musical when they both achieve in getting their first ingredient of the white cow.
The Baker was much more tense in this scene, but it felt in character since the Baker was more uncomfortable with the deceitful bargain. You could tell he was tense by his strict movements, he used a lot of dabs, wrings, slashes, and flicks in Laban terms.
He was also walked slightly more indirectly than his wife, which shows he doesn’t want to be in this situation. Every movement served a purpose to the actor telling the story, and none of it seemed distracting.
The actor even had a slight hunch to him that showed that he works constantly- which he does as a baker. His vocals were great and he was able to be clearly understood the whole time- the only thing that would have been more interesting if he gave himself an accent to indicate he was poorer and didn’t have as good of an education (which is just what I imagine a baker would in this musical).
As for characterization, there were multiple, subtle things that improved his performance as the baker. After the deal with Jack, the Baker gives himself a lot of space between him and his wife- showing how uncomfortable he is with her actions and how much he wants her gone at the moment.
This changes later in the musical during the song “It Takes Two” where they seem to fall in love again. However, his demeanor is still very rigid and doesn’t seem to change until the very end of the musical. (In my personal opinion, this is because he is meant to be with Cinderella and there is finally some peace in the woods after the giant is killed.)
I feel like the actor did a very good job at making their performance believable. Every interaction the baker had felt like it was for the first time and reacted to each scene in character.
The only thing I would say during this scene that would’ve made it better is to show how uncomfortable he was with the negotiation during the negotiation through body language, instead of just telling us after.
The Baker’s Wife
Now the actor portraying Baker’s Wife theoretically should behave in the complete opposite of the actor portraying the Baker.
This is kind of true, but she uses the same laban movements (dab, flick, slash, wring). Except, instead of the movements stemming from the feeling of being uncomfortable, they stem from the feeling of needing a child. This is shown when she walks and moves, it’s more direct than the Baker.
Her movements were purposeful and added to show her character’s personality. Her vocal quality is sharp and aggressive, which fits her character.
She doesn’t really get to change and it’s because of her original personality that she doesn’t get that chance (her more selfish outlook on life is kind of what gets her killed). Even in “It Takes Two”, her underlying mannerisms are the same.
The actor did a very good job of reacting to everything as if it all was real. I would say that there could be some things to make it more believable, like being more grossed out by things she encounters (the woods, a dying cow, tons of hair), but that also could have just been the actor’s choice that she was so driven by her goal she overlooked the gross aspects.
About the Musical
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