Mu Performing Arts is looking to add a fresh twist to a piece famous for tweaking familiar fairy tales into new shapes. The company's production of Into the Woods does not change a word, lyric, or note of music from the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical, but finds a fresh context by moving the action from the forests of Europe to those of Asia. "I wondered what Cinderella would look like in a Filipino context, or if the Baker in The Baker's Wife were Korean," says director Rick Shiomi. "There were multiple Asian groups and cultures that could be involved." That vibe is deployed in part through costuming and the setting, but also in the use of traditional Asian performance styles, such as Obon Festival dancing from Japan. Beyond that is the show's take on fairy tales, which can be summed up with "what happens 'ever after'?" In the first act, characters from several tales — including the Baker and his wife, a creation of Lapine's and Sondheim's — interact on their routes to success. It all goes wrong in the second act, when the consequences of their actions come to the fore. The company features a number of Mu veterans, including Randy Reyes and Sheena Janson as the Baker and his Wife, Sara Ochs as Cinderella, Suzie Juhl as Little Red Riding Hood, and Katie Bradley — stepping into the very large shoes of Bernadette Peters — as the Witch. "These are the kind of roles that will really showcase our actors," Shiomi says.
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: July 20. Continues through Aug. 5, 2012