Moises Kaufman

Don Ipock / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre launches its new season this week with a history lesson wrapped inside a musical. Called The Tallest Tree in the Forest, it examines both the contributions and controversies of Paul Robeson, who at the height of his acting and musical career was perhaps the most famous African-American man in the world.

When Eric Rosen, the artistic director of Kansas City Repertory Theatre, asked noted playwright and director Moises Kaufman to pick a musical he'd like to direct here, at the top of the list was Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods."

Kansas City, MO – Moises Kaufman sat down with KCUR's Steve Walker to talk about how a director puts his own stamp on a musical, and his own venture into the woods.

Don Ipock / Courtesy of Kansas City Repertory Theatre

From a glance at the cast of characters who populate the Stephen Sondheim musical "Into the Woods" - among them, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack in the Beanstalk - one could assume that the show is a romp for audiences of all ages. But a deeper look reveals that its inspirations include Bruno Bettleheim and Carl Jung, both of whom defined classic fables and fairy tales with a much darker palette.