'Woods,' 'Like It' on tap

An outdoor staging of Stephen Sondheim’s fairy-tale tuner “Into the Woods” and a reunion of helmer Daniel Sullivan and thesp Lily Rabe are on tap for the 2012 Shakespeare in the Park season from Off Broadway’s Public Theater.

Frequent Shakespeare in the Park director Sullivan (“Twelfth Night,” “All’s Well That Ends Well”) will helm Rabe in “As You Like It,” with the actress cast as the cross-dressing central character in the Bard comedy about the daughter of an exiled duke and her rustic adventures in the Forest of Arden.

Sullivan previously directed Rabe in the Al Pacino-toplined production of “The Merchant of Venice,” which bowed as part of Shakespeare in the Park before moving to Broadway for an uber-profitable limited engagement. Rabe was nommed for a Tony for her perf.

“Into the Woods,” helmed by Timothy Sheader, had been rumored as a likely candidate for Central Park for a few weeks now. Sheader previously helmed a much-lauded outdoor staging of the musical in 2010 at London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theater. New Gotham version, co-helmed by Liam Steel, will be designed by a team of U.S. creatives and star an American cast.

Tuner, with songs by Sondheim and book by James Lapine, follows a group of fairy-tale characters beyond the happily-ever-after resolutions of their familiar stories.

The 2012 edition of Shakespeare in the Park will rep the free summer theater initiative’s 50th year. The annual slate, staged every year at the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park, is often dedicated to the Bard canon, but has occasionally included other well-known works including “The Seagull,” “Mother Courage and her Children” and the 2008 revival of “Hair” that moved to Broadway for a successful run.

“As You Like It” is targeted for a June opening, while “Into the Woods” will start perfs at the end of July, with exact dates to be announced.

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