I tried explaining Sondheim’s complex morality fable to my five-year-old granddaughter. “You might find it scary,” I said. “It weaves together the stories of Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk with a new story about a baker and his wife. The pair long for a baby, but after the outcome you expect, some unexpected scary stuff starts to happen.”
“Lots of fairy tales are scary anyway, Nana,” she retorted. She has a point. Sondheim’s unravelling and his moral – “be careful what you wish for” – are a timely warning. Book is by James Lapine and director Tim McArthur gives it a 21st-century reality TV check, a fresh new spin that really works.