Following on from the success of last year’s Sunday in the Park with George, Victorian Opera have embraced the musical once again, this time tackling Into the Woodsas part two of what we are teasingly promised will be a Sondheim trilogy.

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1986 musical intertwining of a host of familiar tales from Grimm and Perrault, and in particular an exploration of what comes after the “happily ever after”, is one of their most intricate, and therefore ironically most directorially prescriptive, of musical theatre constructions. That means that on paper, a creative team don’t have much wiggle room to give it an individual stamp (though Richard Jones proved otherwise in his brilliant staging of the original London production). Stuart Maunder isn’t as daring as that with his efficient version at Arts Centre Melbourne, but he demonstrates a deft hand with the essential storytelling and finds a fair few moments to offer a laugh or a bit of business outside of the tightly controlled script. Maunder’s vision (unlike Little Red Riding Hood) rarely strays from the path set by the original Broadway production (a slick-looking concoction with a lot of shouting and where most of the jokes...

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