Stage Right column: Head ‘Into the Woods’ to get your wish | VailDaily.com

Stage Right column: Head ‘Into the Woods’ to get your wish

"Once upon a time …"

And then, "I wish …"

So "Into the Woods" begins.

But what happens when wishes come true? Well, in this case, Cinderella's Prince Charming cheats on her with Sleeping Beauty (sorry for the spoiler, but you needed to know this is not your perfect fairy tale).

This is what audiences were treated to last weekend as well-known childhood characters came to life in this dizzyingly colorful (some might say "off-color") production presented by the Vail Valley Theatre Company. They got to see the Battle Mountain High School auditorium transformed into a dark and scary, exciting and eye-opening forest.

If you missed it, you only have Friday and Saturday to make it up to yourself. It's an opportunity to do something wildly different with your weekend: Take in a show. Impress your date. Get in a good belly laugh. Bathe in the glow of fine musical theater. Grow your brain with an easy, spoonful-of-sugar taste of culture.

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"Into the Woods" is Stephen Sondheim's extraordinarily complicated musical that is a pure delight for the audience, while being somewhat tortuous, and so rewarding, to the cast, which is tasked with singing his intricate and high-speed lyrics with ever-changing time signatures and key changes. If ever there were an English-language musical in need of a libretto, this may be it — but only because the lyrics, sometimes in three layers, are so ingenious. You'll understand 90 percent of what the singers are singing, but you'll have to work at parsing that last 10 percent. It's worth it, so pay close attention.

And the story is fantastic and funny. Robert Lapine's book is a mash-up of several fairytales, exploring the consequences of the wishes and quests of familiar characters from our childhood. You've got Red Riding Hood, a bratty little glutton about to learn some scary but valuable life lessons. There's Cinderella, whose Pollyanna view of the world is being tested to its limits. Jack, whose mother berates him for being simpleminded, learns the cost of risking it all for magic beans. And the Baker and his Wife, who surprise each other with the lengths they'll go to have a child.

Of course, there's a Wicked Witch and two Prince Charmings, whose outward appearances belie something quite the opposite of what we've been lead to believe. "I was raised to be charming, not sincere," says the rakish prince in response to Cinderella's accusation of infidelity. And the Witch, who proves to be the smartest and most practical of the whole bunch, explains, "I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just right."

The Vail Valley Theatre Company, the people who brought "The Rocky Horror Show" and "Chicago" to the valley, have really upped their game this time. The cast consists of only the finest talent in the area, all of whom hold "real" jobs and so have sacrificed time spent with families and work to bring what could be the best show this valley has ever seen. The crew is stellar, a well-oiled machine the audience will, and rightly so, never be able to fully appreciate due to the seamlessness with which this production runs.

There are too many to mention singularly, but suffice it to say it's very likely you know someone involved with this (I invite you to go to the website http://www.vailtheatre.org and read up on the cast and crew). But I must mention Kaylee Brennand, our tireless director who is the glue — sometimes sweet, sometimes sticky — that holds this panoply together. It takes a skilled captain to navigate these treacherous straits of skill, ego and time conflicts without mixing metaphors, and this longtime local with serious theater chops is the only person for the job.

I can't resist revealing one more clever notion in the show: "Careful the path they take, wishes come true … not free." Chew on that simple proverb as you contemplate life's great mysteries. And then make the decision to buy a ticket to this wonderful production. You're sure to enjoy an evening of provocative thought and wild entertainment. As an extra bonus, all are invited to join the cast and crew for the nightly post parties at the Riverwalk at Edwards (Main St. Grill on Friday and e|town on Saturday). After all, who can pass up the chance to have a drink and a bite flanked by the Big Bad Wolf and Rapunzel? Never fear — you will live happily ever after.

Bart Garton plays the role of Rapunzel's Prince in the Vail Valley Theatre Company's production of "Into the Woods."

If you go …

What: “Into the Woods,” presented by the Vail Valley Theatre Company.

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 8; doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Battle Mountain High School auditorium, 151 Miller Ranch Road, Edwards.

Cost: $25 for adults and $15 for students.

More information: Tickets are available in advance at http://www.vailtheatre.org.

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