Just about anyone can delight in hearing a fairy tale or two. But in Herndon High School's recent spirited and witty rendition of "Into the Woods," to hear one such tale was to hear them all.

Brought to the stage by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, "Into the Woods" opened on Broadway in 1987, winning three Tonys. The whimsical show simultaneously updated and satirized fairy tales, injecting a 20th-century twist into even the most ancient of stories.

The musical focused mainly on three tales: Cinderella in her quest for true love, the baker and his barren wife hoping for a child, and Jack with his troublesome beanstalk. The groups eventually ensnared themselves with everyone from giants to Little Red Riding Hood, resulting in a hodgepodge of skewered yarns on a collision course with one another.

Many schools and companies condense the musical into one act because the first part closes in a way that seems to tie up loose ends satisfactorily. Herndon, however, tackled both acts of the mammoth production -- and splendidly.

Despite being hidden behind a cloak for most of the first act, Paris Lofaro (the Witch in "Cinderella") created a memorable performance with her impressive emotional range and stellar vocals.

Great vocals, especially by two of the actresses, gave the show extra oomph. Elizabeth Otero as Cinderella and Tina Boosahda as the Baker's Wife demonstrated a real sense of tune.

In a show in which the sound cues were frequent and easy to miss, Herndon's orchestra and cast must be commended for their accuracy, with few missed notes throughout the three-hour show.

The energy of the cast compensated for occasionally inconsistent sound and some monochromatic performances.

Especially funny were a pair of Prince Charmings (Jason Najjoum, Daniel Maguire), who hooked up with Cinderella throughout the play; Rapunzel (Alyson Lordahl); Snow White (Andrea Hepfinger); Sleeping Beauty (Sarah Rubard); and even the Baker's Wife. One of the show's best numbers was "Agony," in which Najjoum and Maguire resorted to boy-bandish fist clenching while bemoaning relationship issues.

Set pieces were moved frequently, not that the audience noticed, thanks to an efficient stage crew (Alex Dobbs, Nobel Sidnu).

The cast and crew successfully put on a blithe yet affecting production of a modern classic.

Emily Newhook

H-B Woodlawn

Alyson Lordahl as Rapunzel, left, and Paris Lofaro as the Witch in the Herndon High School production of the musical that intermingles fairy tales. Elizabeth Otero plays Cinderella in an updated "Into the Woods."