Interesting. A couple of nights ago, I saw a production of “Into the Woods” mounted at The Strand Theater by San Francisco’s Young A.C.T. Conservatory. The production was creatively staged and superbly acted and sung by these young talents.
The ending also involved children on stage, in this case reading along from a storybook as The Baker told them the tale that we had just seen. The concept worked very well.
I think the difference is that:
(1) Act 1 and Act 2 both open with children reading from a storybook in a library. The library set comes on and off the stage throughout the evening, providing a framing and unifying look and theme.
(2) The children listening to the Baker’s story in the finale had been part of the ensemble from the get-go, playing roles as varied as the Narrator, Cinderella’s birds, Milky White, and the Giant. Hence, we have gotten to know them during the course of the evening and are not thrown off by their appearance at the end as a way of underlining the premise of “Children Will Listen.”