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As the season of witches, wolves and villains slinks toward us, the Athens Theatre in DeLand will stir its magic cauldron and brew a yarn that weaves together many tales you may already know (but in a way you’ve never heard before).

Many of Grimms’ fairy tales will walk off the pages of our childhood books and onto the haunted stage of the Athens Theatre Friday, Sept. 27. But in Stephen Sondheim’s musical masterpiece Into the Woods, these fairy tales peel off the sunny disguises of childhood innocence to reveal haunted, twisted, often Freudian fears — creating a perfect concoction for a grown-up Halloween.

When an ugly witch (played by Erica deJongh) curses a family and leaves the baker (Gavin Waid) and his wife (Chelsea Jo Conard) barren, the couple must find the ingredients to reverse the spell. The childless duo venture into the woods to seek out the necessary items to undo the magic.

Meanwhile, Cinderella (Sarah Mills), Jack (Logan Reynolds) and his cow, and Little Red (Hayley Sanz) also journey into the dark and dangerous enchanted forest.

With differing motivations, at the core they are all on a journey to find out who they are and how they can overcome the gloomy reality of being alone.

In contrast to the stories with which we grew up, Sondheim’s fairy tales turn inside out and explore the grim repercussions of all those very short happily-ever-afters: How a giant reacts when her husband is killed. How princes may be charming but not necessarily monogamous. How locking your daughter in a tower will not keep her from womanhood.

And most of all, how you should be “careful of the things you say; children will listen.”

This comical, ironic and haunting production boasts the Tony Award-winning music of Sondheim and book by James Lapine.

Director Tara Kromer has waved her directorial wand and, with the know-how and talent of our Geppetto-like set designer and builder Tori Oaks, has used more than 2,000 books to turn the Athens stage into a land of printed pages.

Audiences will find themselves transported into a murky make-believe land full of vivid character portrayals, soaring voices, satirical humor and cliffhanging action.

The Athens Theatre invites you to join them Friday, Sept. 27, as they celebrate opening night with a free champagne (or sparkling cider) toast.

Parents may want to take children under the age of 10 home after the first act to spare them some of the traditionally Grimm details that may be too dark for young, impressionable minds.

The historic Athens Theatre is at 124 N. Florida Ave. in Downtown DeLand.

— Alexa A. Baldwin is director of marketing and operations for the Athens Theatre.

 

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