Before Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Tituss Burgess was singing "Pinot Noir," he starred as the Witch from Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods. Burgess reprised his role (briefly) for Sondheim's birthday celebration. Just try and watch this clip without weeping.
This past weekend, Disney continued its fantastic streak of paying homage to the Broadway and stage stars that contribute to their films with a Into The Woods cabaret/Sondheim birthday celebration. I was lucky enough to attend and thankfully not break out into hives from theater nerd fandom.
The big standouts of the evening were Burgess and original Into the Woods Broadway cast member Chip Zien. Burgess played the Witch in a regional Florida production of Into the Woods and dammit, I wish I could have seen him live, because he just killed it (above and below). Killed it.
The whole performance isn't online sadly, but these two clips really give a taste of the sensation that Burgess is on stage (and if you've seen him on Broadway in the original cast of Jersey Boys and The Little Mermaid, well I'm jealous).
The other big hit of the evening was Chip Zien, the original Baker from the 1987 Broadway production of Into the Woods (and also the voice of Howard The Duck). Zien, who delightfully pointed out that his big song was cut from the Into The Woods theatrical release (for reasons we still cannot comprehend), would eventually also take on the role of "Mysterious Man" (his stage father) in the 2012 revival. So it made sense that he would sing the wonderful "No More" as a duet with himself. There are no words.
And a bit more from this performance.
Clearly, Zien is a gem and "No More" never should have been cut from the movie. However, it's certainly refreshing to witness Disney showcase the Broadway talent, rather than sweep it under the rug as non-Disney canon. It's a respectful change, and it's absolutely wonderful witnessing Disney really attempt highlight the talent, all of the talent (and bolster DVD sales at the same time). Well done.
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