Exploring How Broadway’s ‘Into the Woods’ Will Change at the Movies

So I’m sure you’ve started hearing the buzz surrounding the latest Broadway-to-Hollywood production Into the Woods. Disney is footing the bill with a stellar cast including Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt and Johnny Depp. This isn’t some after thought, dump it in January, production either. It is getting the coveted Christmas Day release meaning the big wigs at Disney are expecting great things at the box office and maybe a shiny Oscar statue to add to the mantle of the mouse.

The Broadway aficionados are probably wondering how true to form the new Into the Woods production will be. Usually we’d have to wait like everyone else for an answer, but luckly legendary composer Stephen Sondheim revealed some major plot variations when he met with a group of drama instructors at a master class organized by the Academy for Teachers in New York. What he shared may just surprise you (Spoilers Below).

The first two changes audiences can expect to see in the film are that “Rapunzel does not get killed and the Prince does not sleep with the Baker’s Wife,” Sondheim shared with class attendees. He also noted that the song “Any Moment” had probably been cut and replaced with a new song written just for the film.

Why the changes you may ask? Well Sondheim briefly explained that Disney had objections to the sexual nature of the story of Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood, suggesting that the film’s scenes are likely to be far more mild than what was seen on stage. And since Disney is a company that traditionally markets to children, it makes sense that some of the darker and more sexual elements would be removed to make it more suitable for a younger audience.

Though the reasoning behind the alterations makes sense, many people are concerned that these omissions will dramatically alter the undertones of the story and detract from its overall theme. Quora user Darren Zieger seems to be one of those people who isn’t enthused by the changes. In a post on the site he writes in reference to the omission of Rapunzel’s death, “This is a ridiculous alteration — it completely undermines the theme of the show, and removes a lot of the motivations for the Witch’s emotions and actions.” Nancy Churnin, a writer for Guide Live a subset of The Dallas Morning News wrote in a piece, “I’m worried that the Disney adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s stage musical, winner of multiple Tony Awards, will become Into Another Woods.”

Yet there are still others, myself included, who are intrigued by the changes and look forward to seeing how they will play out in the film. The cast is amazing, the graphics look spectacular, and the presentation of the story is likely to be well thought out. Plus, the screenplay is written by the show’s original book writer James Lapin which offers a deeper sense of security about the film’s future success. If for no other reason, Disney’s undertaking of this project should be praised because it will share this great story with a wider and younger audience base.

With Disney’s track-record of making great films, the expectation for this adaptation to succeed is quite high, but ultimately audiences will decide.

Press notes for the film describe it as “a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel- all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.”

For those of you who are anxious to see a sneak peak of the upcoming film, you can view the trailer here:

Author: Diamond Grant