Think you know fairy tales like "Cinderella," "Jack and the Bean Stalk" and "Rapunzel"?

"Into the Woods" asks you to think again, and go beyond Cindy trying on the glass slipper, Jack slaying a giant and Rapunzel letting down her hair. The Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical, which opens Friday as the Guthrie Theater's big summer show, aims to light an entertaining path through the wilderness, a metaphor for confusing times.

"At their root, these stories are meant to educate and caution us," said director Sarna Lapine, who is James' niece and best known for her 2017 Broadway revival of "Sunday in the Park With George," starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford. "They depict a world where people are so self-involved, they're chasing their own tails."

An opera director known for her penetrating excavation of texts, Lapine is making her debut at the Guthrie with "Woods." (Coincidentally, her husband, Matthew Saldivar, has played Scrooge in the company's venerable "A Christmas Carol" for the past couple of years.)

"Woods" offers musical comedy about follies which we can overcome, Lapine said. "At the end of the day, it's about finding hope and laughter through the darkness."

Lapine is not the only talent new to the Guthrie. Nine members of the "Woods" cast also are making their debuts at the company's big blue riverfront edifice in Minneapolis. We talked with five of them.

Kym Chambers Otto: A veteran Twin Cities performer and voice teacher, Chambers Otto has been auditioning for the Guthrie for 14 years and has finally snagged her first role — Cinderella's stepmother.

She is beyond thrilled and wants to set an example to young people in the business.

"Some people might be embarrassed that it took 14 years, but I tell my students all the time it's about persistence and showing up," Chambers Otto said. "Keep working on your talent so you're ready when the opportunity arises."

Chambers Otto sees the role as someone blinded by her own ego and self-interest and likens the character to contemporary figures. "Some people suffered when the pandemic happened. The Stepmother is one of those who didn't," Chambers Otto said. "She's like a Kardashian, totally wrapped up in her own narcissism."

Trevor James: Los Angeles native James, who plays Jack of "Jack and the Bean Stalk," worked with Sarna Lapine in February for her "Sunday in the Park" production at Southern California's Pasadena Playhouse.

He had trouble relating to Jack's character at first. "He has been played across the spectrum from a young boy to an adult man," James said. "He's stunted emotionally by his somewhat abusive mother. For me, I started to find my way into him as someone who grows up too fast and doesn't realize the consequences of his actions."

James gets to deliver "Giants in the Sky," Jack's big number, which has his favorite lines in the show: "And you think of all the things you've seen / And you wish that you could live in between."

Robert Knight: Lapine also directed this California native, who has credits in theater and opera, in "Sunday in the Park." Knight played the same type of character in "Sunday" as the role he does in "Woods" — a baker. In "Sunday," the character was named after Lapine's grandfather, a real baker. In "Woods," the baker and his wife cannot have children because a witch has cast a spell on them.

This new role is eerily relatable, Knight said, because he and his wife are new parents after struggling with fertility issues.

"We've had miscarriages on this journey of figuring out how we can have a family," he said.

Emily Tyra: The Wayzata High School graduate and former James Sewell Ballet dancer appeared in "Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway" with the Australian actor and has had roles in such TV shows as "Boardwalk Empire" and "Code Black."

Heroically, she recovered from brain surgery in 2019. She plays Cinderella in "Woods" and is now having her own Cinderella moment in life.

"I've practiced her song, 'On the Steps of the Palace,' since I was 19 years old, always staying vocally ready," she said. "I guess I thought, 'One day, baby, somehow the stars will align.'"

Tyra said that Cindy, as she calls her, is underestimated and misunderstood.

"She's discovering that maybe the things that she wants or that she thought she wanted were placed upon her by society or her stepfamily that's so obsessed with beauty and clothes and excess," Tyra said. "Maybe I just want to get out in the world and experience something."

Anna Hashizume, Rapunzel/Cinderella's Mother: A Wayzata High School graduate who earned her master's in musical performance at the University of Minnesota, Hashizume trained for opera before entering the theater world. "It's kind of surreal to be performing at the Guthrie, since I grew up here and it's like, Broadway," she said.

She plays Rapunzel and Cinderella's mother in "Woods." She loves the complexity of the characters and does not think of them in terms of being good and evil.

"My father is from Japan and I grew up watching [Hayao] Miyazaki movies," Hashizume said. "Being raised that way means that there's not so much a dichotomy between good and bad, the hero and the villain. It's a little more blurred. They're all just trying to survive the best way they know how."

'Into the Woods'

Who: Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine. Directed by Sarna Lapine.

When: 7:30 p.m. Tue.-Sat., 1 p.m. Sun. with 1 p.m. matinees on select Wednesdays and Saturdays. Ends Aug. 13.

Where: Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., Mpls.

Protocol: Masks required on July 9.

Tickets: $20-$94, 612-377-2224 or