A musical that kept us a little on edge

In Strange Woods – the new docu-musical fiction podcast by Lauren Shippen’s Atypical Artists – has quickly become one of the most listened to podcasts in America. Listed by The New York Times as one of the “Best Winter Podcasts”, the audio drama reached #1 on Apple’s fiction podcast charts. The setup of In Strange Woods, fictional true-crime investigation takes place in a tense and emotional narrative.

With a cast of Broadway, television and podcast mainstays including Lily Mae Harrington (Sing It!, All Rise, The Glee Project), Tony Award® nominee Patrick Page (Hadestown, Spring Awakening, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark), Tony Award® winner Beth Leavel (The Prom, The Drowsy Chaperon, Young Frankenstein), Donna Lynn Champlin (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Another Period, Submissions Only), Michaela Watkins (SNL, Casual, Trophy Wife), Brett Ryback (Murder For Two), Briggon Snow (The Bright Sessions, The College Tapes, The Big Loop) and Raymond J. Lee (Soft Power, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical), In Strange Woods has taken the podcast musical genre and flipped it on its head by using a “true crime” format…and people are obsessed.

In a small Minnesota town, a boy named Jacob gets lost in the woods, vanishes, and is tragically found dead. His loss leaves an impact and shatters the town the town, and his younger sister Peregrine (Lily Mae-Harrington) finds herself drawn to the local survivalist, Howl. Voiced by Patrick Page, Howl is a Tom Waits’ian ideal who looks like an archetypal Unsub but is bent double under tragedy of his own.

In an effort to understand her loss, and to punch mortality in the face, Peregrine persuades him to teach her survival skills. Over the following months, her friends get caught up in the same, curious orbit.

The cast, packed with a range of identities including broadway stars and audio fiction favorites, manages to thread the needle of true crime and the musical suspension of disbelief, making for a unique and compelling experience.

When they combine as one, the group find something bigger than the town, but for Peregrine that is not enough.  The point is The Final, when Howl will drive them into the woods and leave them alone with no idea where they are, minimal resources and one task: make it home alive.

A couple of outlets had things to say like:

“…the vocal performances are beautiful…a compelling story.” – The New York Times

“In Strange Woods is an ambitious production…Its release continues the Atypical Artists tradition of twisting the familiar into something new…shaping up to be something special indeed” – Rashika Rao

“Courage is one of the defining traits of the show…it’s remarkable…In Strange Woods is a compelling, tragic, funny musical audio drama, unlike anything else I’ve heard this year.” – The Full Lid

“Gripping…a rich atmospheric podcast…on paper it shouldn’t work but it does here.” – BBC 4 Podcast Radio Hour

“Known primarily for her comedic roles, here Leavel makes a fierce dramatic turn with her tour-de-force performance.” – Broadway World

The music throughout the entire show gives a fun ‘musical’ sense of stage when listening. Much of the soundtrack leans into what a podcast can really do for a listener from dynamic sound effects to even making it feel like someone is right behind you at times to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Significant parts of the narrator Brett’s dialogue make you feel as if it is something close to poetry, and gives you an emotional focus and depth to the narrative.

At the en

If you have your doubts about a musical podcast, listen to In Strange Woods for yourself and be happily convinced otherwise.