Sondheim To Be Cleaned Up For Kids

I understand why the Public Theater is doing only the first act of the Sondheim/Lapine musical “Into the Woods” for today’s “family-friendly” matinee in Central Park: it’s shorter than doing the whole thing, and God forbid we should test the attention span of tots, even though I’ve taken scores of them to “The Nutcracker” every Christmas without a single complaint that the two-hours-plus experience is too long. But “Woods” is a three-hour sit, a trial for some young bums. So I’m going to stop carping. On second thought: why give children only the first act, which ends Happily Ever After, and deny them the second act, when reality — and the witch (Donna Murphy, pictured) intervene? All kinds of kiddie-lit classics have dark themes. I’m glad Maurice Sendak isn’t alive to hear about all this.

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