By Bonnie Goldberg

Somewhere between “once upon a time” and “happily ever after,” the Brothers Grimm created a boatload of fairy tales that were dark and mysterious and gave us goose bumps and nightmares in equal installments. Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine have taken all these intriguing plots and woven them into a clever and imaginative cauldron of tasty soup entitled “Into the Woods.”


The Westport Country Playhouse is celebrating the musical’s twenty-fifth anniversary with a splendid production stuffed with your favorite fairy tale characters until Saturday, May 26.


There’s no need to don Little Red Ridinghood’s red cape or Cinderella’s glass slipper or Rapunzel’s long yellow hair or climb Jack’s infamous Beanstalk, unless you want to help the Baker and his wife (Erik Liberman and Danielle Ferland) in their quest to have a child.


A long time ago a Witch (Lauren Kennedy) had a curse placed upon her and in order for it to be lifted, the Baker and his wife must bring her, in three days’ time, a cape red as blood, hair yellow as corn, a cow white as milk and a slipper pure as gold. So they set off “into the woods” to make their dream come true.


In the forest, they meet a devoted son Jack (Justin Scott Brown) who has been sent by his mother (Cheryl Stern) to sell Milky White, his beloved cow, so they can have money to buy food, a feisty and determined Little Red Ridinghood (Dana Steingold) who is off to visit her granny (Alma Cuervo) but meets a wolf (Nik Walker) instead, Cinderella (Jenny Latimer) who has escaped her wicked stepmother (Alma Cuervo) and stepsisters (Eleni Delopoulos and Nikka Graff Lanzarone) to go to the prince’s ball and Rapunzel (Britney Coleman) who has been imprisoned in a tower. Toss in a pair of handsome, charming but insincere princes (Robert Lenzi and Nik Walker), a mysterious man (Jeremy Lawrence) and a narrator (Jeffry Denman) who tries to orchestrate the action and you have all the ingredients for a fulfilling and satisfying evening of theater.


Mark Lamos directs this fine cast on this flight of fancy in fabulous style, in association with Baltimore’s CENTERSTAGE, on a lovely set designed by Allen Moyer and colorful costumes by Candice Donnelly.


For tickets ($30 and up), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off route 1, Westport at 888-927-7529 or 203-227-4177 or online at www.westportplayhouse.org. Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. An interesting note is that Stephen Sondheim was an intern at the playhouse sixty-two years ago.


Heartfelt wishes and witch’s curses, magic beans and wolfish fiends, angry giants and a community’s defiance, “Into the Wood” has them all in fantastic and fanciful abundance.

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