Deep in ‘Woods’ lies tale of human truths (witch warts and all)

Be careful what you wish for. (You all know why.)

Unless, of course, you wish for a wish-come-true production of “Into the Woods.”

In that case, all you need to do is venture forth to Cedar City, where the Utah Shakespeare Festival is — at long last — staging a Tony-winning Stephen Sondheim musical that isn’t “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

One of Sondheim’s most accessible shows, “Into the Woods” is at least as playful as it is profound, delivering a full measure of fractured fairy-tale delight before it gets down to business: what comes after the happily-ever-after.

In exploring this sometimes treacherous territory, Sondheim and playwright James Lapine, who directed the original production, gather a gaggle of storybook characters — from the perennially passive Cinderella (a graceful Tina Scariano) to hapless Jack of beanstalk fame (sunny James Sanders) — and interweave them with irrepressible, irresistible wit. Consider the candor with which the Wolf (a slinky, insinuating Peter Saide) ponders chomping Little Red Riding Hood (the fiercely chirpy Deanna Ott): “There’s no possible way to describe what you feel, when you’re talking to your meal.”

But there’s another tale sharing the musical’s once-upon-a-time spotlight, about a childless baker (the achingly earnest Brian Vaughn) and his unfailingly practical wife (Melinda Pfundstein, ably conveying the dreams beneath the drudgery).

Their efforts to reverse a curse and expand their family reveal their lives to be every bit as fantastical as those of their more familiar counterparts.

And where there’s a curse, there must be a witch (the fiendishly gleeful Misty Cotton) — but she has her reasons for doing whatever she’s done. Which makes her just like everyone else.

Director Jeremy Mann sets the show’s action in evocative two-dimensional surroundings. (Hugh Landwehr’s scenic designs look like vintage illustrations by Gustave Dore, while costume designer Bill Black’s channeling Disney.) Yet the storybook look only serves to heighten the all-too-human dilemmas on display.

Mann ably balances the musical’s more satirical aspects (Saide and Kyle Eberlein as two hilariously pompous princes who love to suffer) with more poignant moments in the woods, as characters inevitably must face the undeniable fact that — to quote another of Sondheim’s pierce-the-heart lyrics — “wishes come true, not free.”

Those moments prove that, despite its make-believe trappings, “Into the Woods” spins a tale that’s all too real. That is, if you’ve ever made a wish — and haven’t we all?

Contact reporter Carol Cling at or 702-383-0272.

WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buddy V - Sep 21 Confidante
Famous Infinity Mirror Room is open in Las Vegas
Yayoi Kusama's "Aftermath of Obliteration of Infinity" mirror room is open at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Glittering Lights dazzles Las Vegas
The Glittering Lights holiday display is shining at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Skybar at Waldorf Astoria lets you sip your way through Las Vegas history
Skybar At Waldorf Astoria Lets You Sip Your Way Through Las Vegas History (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stan Lee in Las Vegas for Madame Tussauds unveiling
Stan Lee Las Vegas speaks with the Review-Journal's Chris Lawrence about his love for his fans and shared universes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ultimate Belgium Waffle Sundae at Lavo
Lavo at the Palazzo serves a 16-scoop ice cream sundae that costs $800. (Rochelle Ricahrds, Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel lLas Vegas Review-Journal)
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like