This lovely picture tweeted by Michelle Blair a few weeks ago shows a group of young actors that were together in the 1998 London revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods at Donmar Warehouse.
Oh, yeah! Way earlier than being the big, bad wolf Henry in Wolf Hall, Damian Lewis was the Wolf in Into the Woods.
Damian was cast as the Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince in the 1998 London revival of Into the Woods, one of Stephen Sondheim’s greatest musicals. The revival opened at the Donmar Warehouse on 16 November 1998, and closed on 13 February 1999.
Here is a lovely pic along with his theater, TV and film credits from the 1998 London Playbill for the musical.
Into the Woods is a musical with an original story about a baker and his wife who want to start a family and their interaction with a witch that has placed a curse on them. This original story is tied beautifully to the plots from several Brothers Grimm fairy tales. The main characters are from “Little Red Riding Hood“, “Jack and the Beanstalk“, “Rapunzel“, and “Cinderella, and a few others. The baker and his wife interact with these storybook characters on their journey.
The production at Donmar was nominated for the Outstanding Musical Production at the Laurence Olivier Awards in 1999. Theater critic Kevin Wilson, in particular, raved about Damian as the Wolf:
“The Wolf, in the hands of Damian Lewis, is a sexy, charismatic character whose death robs the piece one of its greatest assets at an early stage.”
Damian once sang “Agony” — the musical number he sang as Cinderella’s prince in Into the Woods — on Popcorn with Peter Travers. In this particular scene, Cinderella’s prince and Rapunzel’s prince, who are brothers, compare the misery that their new found and unobtainable loves give them.
“Did I abuse her
or show her disdain?
Why does she run from me?
If I should lose her
How shall I regain
the heart she has won from me?
Beyond power of speech
When the one thing you want
is the only thing out of your reach.”
And mmm… you wanna hear Damian sing Agony? Oh, yes, you do, and…
…you are very welcome 🙂
I told you earlier about American Buffalo programme booklet having fun questions asked by fans and answered by Damian Lewis!
Here is a fan question from that booklet!
Claire Bartlett asks:
“I saw you playing the Wolf in Into the Woods at the Donmar in the late 1990s. Any more musicals on the horizon?”
“Possibly, as long as it’s not too difficult a piece, because I discovered I sound much better in the shower than I do out of it! But I really like musicals so never say never.”
In fact, there were rumors in early 2013 that Damian was in some kind of early negotiations to play the lead character in a West End revival of the musical Me and My Girl, set in 1930s and telling the story of Bill Snibson, an “unapologetically unrefined cockney gentleman named Bill who learns that he is the 14th heir to the Earl of Hareford.” It may be that Damian’s schedule in 2013, including Homeland Season 3 shoot, did not let him go ahead with the musical, or it could be something else, but the production did not go through in the end, either.
Damian, in his recent SAG-AFTRA interview, cites Me and My Girl as one musical that he fell in love with as he talks about which actors he looked up to on stage as he was growing up:
“I totally fell in love with Robert Lindsay and Emma Thompson doing Me and My Girl in the West End which he then took to Broadway and won a Tony for… A lovely 1930s Vaudevillian musical.”
And, guess what, he leans on a wall holding a copy of The Evening Standard and sings “Leaning on a Lamppost” from Me and My Girl as his opening number when he hosts Evening Standard Theatre Awards at the Savoy Hotel in London, in November 2013. Notice Damian’s Movember Moustache!
His tweet about his preparation a few weeks before the awards ceremony is priceless!
Tsvetanka, one of our wonderful readers, has shared with us this little audio file where Damian is singing “ Leaning on a Lamp-post” at the Evening Standard Awards. Well, either he is singing differently from the shower or he is a brilliant performer in the shower! Because, as Tsvetanka points out “he has such a velvet voice and excellent vibrato.”
Please copy and paste the link below and… ENJOY!
Let’s have one more song in closing because why not? Damian sang a lovely standard, You Brought a New Kind of Love to me on his most recent appearance on Popcorn with Peter Travers. Even though Frank Sinatra version of this love song is the most famous, we would take Damian’s version over it anytime, wouldn’t we?
So just close your eyes and let Damian sing for you:
Travers is genuinely thrilled: “The musical has to be next!”
Damian: “Maybe not.”