Woods production images

Into the Woods

  • June 4 - October 11, 2014
  • Music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim | Book by James Lapine | Originally directed on Broadway by James Lapine
  • Orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick | Directed by Amanda Dehnert
Run Time:Two hours and 55 minutes, including one intermission.

Be careful what you wish for

How far would you go to make your wish come true? Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (of beanstalk fame), and a baker and his wife find out when they take a journey into the woods. It’s a magical, bewildering place full of witches, wolves, giants and mysterious strangers, where familiar fairy tales get tangled up together. Wishes come true here, but at a price. Even storybook characters must face the music—of which there is plenty—in Sondheim and Lapine’s irreverent Tony Award–winner.

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The Story

A group of familiar fairy-tale characters enter unfamiliar territory when their stories intersect in a dark forest over the course of three nights.

The fate of these disparate—and discontented—people was determined a generation earlier when a young baker tried to quell the cravings of his pregnant wife by sneaking into the garden of a neighboring witch and stealing her green vegetables. As punishment, the witch kidnapped their newborn baby girl, named her Rapunzel, and locked her away in a tower. To prevent further thievery, the Witch placed a curse on the baker’s only son, ensuring that his family tree would be barren.

The action of the play begins when the Witch returns to tell the son, now grown and a baker himself, that he can undo the spell and conceive a child with his wife if he retrieves the following items by the stroke of midnight three days hence:

One: the cow as white as milk
Two: the cape as red as blood
Three: the hair as yellow as corn
Four: the slipper as pure as gold

The baker ventures into the woods with the unwanted assistance of his resourceful Wife, armed only the beans he believes his father may have stolen from the Witch’s garden. Eventually, the couple fulfill their quest by duping a lad out of his cow in exchange for their “magic” beans, struggling to get a cape off a girl trying to bring a basket of goodies to her grandmother, cutting off the long hair of a girl locked in a tower and stealing the shoe off the foot of a maiden fleeing a prince after a ball. The expected fairy-tale endings of Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Cinderella occur with everyone, including the Baker and his Wife, living happily ever after.

But that’s not the end of this story. In the second act, the consequences of the characters’ actions play out, most crucially the vengeance of a widowed giantess determined to find the larcenous lad who climbed a beanstalk, then chopped it down, killing her husband. However, with the convoluted machinations that led to that calamity, no one is free of blame. And no one but the Witch wants to sacrifice the simple-minded Jack. Together they must figure out how to restore peace to the land—without magic.


The Dark Woods

The literary symbolism of the forest is as richly textured as a forest itself, dating back at least 4,000 years to the ancient Mesopotamian poem of Gilgamesh. In that epic tale, Gilgamesh the warrior enlists the aid of the sun god to defeat the demon guard of the forest. Thus the woods—a dark, sunless place populated by wild animals, thieves and rogues—came to be associated with the demonic, while the life-generating sun represented the divine.

Imagery contrasting light and dark abounds in Sondheim’s lyrics throughout Into the Woods. “The way is clear / The light is good,” sing the characters in the first act before they head into the forest. But in the second act, a year older and wiser, they sing, “The way is dark / The light is dim.”

The symbolism goes beyond the sinister. “The forest is the place where vegetable life thrives and luxuriates, free from any control or cultivation,” wrote mythologist J. E. Cirlot. This sense of abandon is reflected in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It, where characters lose their inhibitions and express their true selves once they’re separated from civilization under the canopy of trees. Midsummer follows the tradition of the woods as a place of enchantment, while in As You Like It, the Forest of Arden provides the freedom to “fleet the time carelessly.”

With the advent of psychology, the forest came to be associated with the subconscious mind, giving rise to the modern interpretation of fairy tales by both Freudians and Jungians.

Still, the uncertain dangers of an uninhabited environment continue to capture the contemporary imagination, even in our connected digital age. The lost hikers of the film The Blair Witch Project caused a pop culture sensation in 1999, while The Forbidden Forest on the outskirts of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series is considered too dangerous even for wizards, providing refuge to such threats as the Blood-Sucking Bugbears.

Closer to OSF is the magical mischief of TV’s Grimm, which makes extensive use of the old-growth forests in Portland.

In the words of Cinderella’s Prince, “Anything can happen in the woods.”

An edited version reprinted from OSF’s 2014 Illuminations, a 64-page guide to the season’s plays. For more information, or to buy the full Illuminationsclick here. Members at the Patron level and above and teachers who bring a school groups to OSF receive a free copy of Illuminations.


Music and lyrics
Stephen Sondheim
James Lapine

Creative Team

Director/Musical Director
Amanda Dehnert
Scenic Designer
Rachel Hauck
Costume Designer
Linda Roethke
Lighting Designer
Jane Cox
Sound Designer
Joshua Horvath
Associate Music Director
Matt Goodrich
Royer Bockus**
Sign Coach
Monique Holt
ASL Translator
Monique Holt
ASL Translator
Howie Seago*
Voice and Text Director
Rebecca Clark Carey
Voice and Text Director
David Carey
Fight Director
U. Jonathan Toppo*


Narrator/Mysterious Man
Anthony Heald*
Miriam A. Laube*
Javier Muñoz*
Baker's Wife
Rachael Warren*
Miles Fletcher*
Jack's Mother
Robin Goodrin Nordli*
Jennie  Greenberry*
Cinderella's Father
Robert Vincent Frank*
Cinderella's Prince/Wolf Voice
Jeremy Peter Johnson*
Howie Seago*
Little Red Riding Hood
Kjerstine Rose Anderson*
Royer Bockus**
Rapunzel's Prince
John Tufts*
Stepmother/Milky White/Giant
Catherine E. Coulson*
David Kelly*
Florinda/Sleeping Beauty
Katie Bradley
Lucinda/Snow White
Christiana Clark*


Conductor (6/4-8/13)
Amanda Dehnert
Conductor (8/16-10/11)
Martin Majkut
Matt Goodrich
Nicholas Temple
Strings (Concertmaster)
Sarah Klein
Kenan Celebi
Grace Connelly
Kimberly Fitch
Anne Kim
Aaron Klein
Michal Palzewicz
Nolan Peard
Nathaniel Savage
Paul Shubat
Brian Carpenter
Christina Dietlein
Debra Harris
Gwen Hutchings
Devon Ivie
Stephanie Kuborssy
Halli Roussell
Brass (Orchestra Manager)
Alison Dresser
Jenifer Carstensen
Becky Fuller-Phillips
Linda Harris
Natalie Johnson
Avram Rosove
Reed Bentley
Gabriel Neimark
* Member of Actors' Equity Association (AEA)
**AEA Professional Theatre Intern
  • Woods image

    Trailer: Into the Woods

    Come into the woods and discover the magic!

  • Hannah Greene

    Stage Notes

    Assistant Director Hannah Greene shares Amanda Dehnert's vision for the production. Excerpted from OSF's Informed Volunteer Program (May 2014).

  • Princes image

    Snapshot: Playing Princes...Again

    Actors Jeremy Peter Johnson and John Tufts talk about their princely roles in the show.

  • Snow White fitting image

    Snapshot: Snow White in Sparkles

    Costume Design Assistant Carolyn Brooks and actor Christiana Clark provide a glimpse of the Snow White costume.

  • Cinderella's Cape image

    Snapshot: Cinderella's Cape

    Dyer & painter Caroline Dignes explains the process of creating Cinderella's cape.

  • Flowers image

    Snapshot: A Flowering Forest Floor

    Senior Properties Master Paul James Martin talks about building the flowers for the show.

  • Dehnert image

    The Music

    Director Amanda Dehnert shares insights about Sondheim's music and composition.

  • Dehnert image

    The Story

    Director Dehnert talks about the surprising and unexpected story of "Into the Woods."

  • LATimes_logo

    "...speech and song find a rare harmony..."

    "But it was the beauty of the singing that melded the moral and emotional aspects of Into the Woods into a seamless vision."
    Click the logo to read the complete review.

  • Oregonian logo

    A Lavish Production

    "...the singing and acting are delightful."
    Click the logo to read the complete review.

  • Herald & News logo

    "...wows with wonder."

    "...a dazzling, you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it production..."
    Click the logo to read the complete review.

  • GP Courier logo

    "...the handsome prince of the opening shows..."

    "...a cast of standouts..."
    Click the logo to read the complete review.

  • Mail Tribune logo

    "...flirts with perfection..."

    An "inventive production" with "vivid performances"...(caution: spoiler alert; don't read if you don't know the show!)
    Click the logo to read the complete review.