Joanna Gleason

Imagination at play in a simple but joyful 'Into the Woods'

"Into the Woods," the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical in which classic fairy tales are combined to tell a grown-up fable that might be called "Neurotically Ever After," is that rare thing — a Sondheim hit that critics have found lacking.

Sondheim's customary routine is the succès d'estime — prestige over box office. Not here. Lapine's book has trouble gathering its narrative strands. And then there's the more widespread problem of pat psychoanalytic interpretation.

Revivals of "Into the Woods" are always trying to rejigger the formula to make the most of an enchantment that somehow remains, like the wishes of its...