A Look at “Into The Woods” Then and Now

Into the Woods Then and Now

Welcome to those of you joining me from Disney Mamas and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 4th stop on our Magical Blogorail.

I still remember the first time I saw Into the Woods.  It was on PBS and I was sitting in my parent’s living room.  My Dad was flipping channels and he stumbled upon it. We spent the next two hours laughing and enjoying this take on some very familiar fairy tales.  That was 1991.

Since then I have seen the video of that performance {affiliate link} too many times to count, bought the cassette then cd then digital download of the soundtrack {affiliate link},  worked on the set of a little theater rendition of the play and even saw it once on Broadway.

I am bit of a fan.  So, what is it all about…

The Beginning

Into The Woods PosterInto the Woods {affiliate link} is a musical written by Stephen Sondheim based on a book by James Lapine.  It premiered on Broadway on 1987 and instantly was a hit.  It won multiple Tony Award, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical.

The musical may be the original Once Upon a Time.  They weaved together elements of fairy tales we know well into a completely new plot.  You will find familiar characters from Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella.  (and keep an eye out for some dancing pigs)

A story of a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family and break a family curse bring all of the stories together and Into the Woods!

The show uses music and humor to actual cover some pretty heart warming themes.  These include growing up and losing innocence, relationships between parents and children, accepting responsibility, and consequences for getting what you wish for.

The Time Magazine reviewers wrote that the play’s “basic insight … is at heart, most fairy tales are about the loving yet embattled relationship between parents and children. Almost everything that goes wrong — which is to say, almost everything that can — arises from a failure of parental or filial duty, despite the best intentions.”

The Characters

The plot is a great platform for some of the most entertaining characters you will find on stage.  I have to share some of my favorites.

Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack is the perfect picture of the wide eyed innocence of youth looking for adventure. His mother on the other hand is a woman beaten by life and a bit batty. Some of her classic sayings are:

Slotted spoons don’t hold much soup.” and “The slotted spoon can catch the potato!

One of my favorite songs in the musical is when Jack comes back from seeing the giant for the first time.  It is a wonderful performance showing Jack moving from an innocent child to someone discovering there is so much more out there.

The Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood

The Wolf is a character that will definitely make an impression.  He instantly draws your attention and makes you want to step away from the path and do thing you should not.

His prey is of course Little Red Riding Hood.   She is not one of the most pleasant character so you may find yourself rooting for the Wolf as he sings to his lunch…

There’s no possible way
To describe how you feel
When you’re talking to your meal!

The Princes

These men will have you looking differently at all of your favorite fairy tales.   These self centered men only are in it for the hunt.  Some of my favorite quotes that really show what they are made of include:

I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” and “The harder to get, the better to have.”

Their song ‘Agony’ is probably the funniest song in the entire play.

Wicked Witch

The most fabulous character is the entire play is the witch.  She actually describers herself as…

I’m not good, I’m not nice, I’m just right.

She is actually a very complicated character that grows and changes (more than you would think) in each act.  Her ability to acknowledge basic human behavior actually made her endearing by the end of the play.

Sometimes the things you most wish for are not to be touched.” and “Careful the things you say children will listen.

In the original play she was played by Bernadette Peters.  To die hard fans she will always be THE wicked witch.

2002 Revival

In 2002, Into the Woods headed back to Broadway.   This time Vanessa Williams took the role of the Wicked Witch.   It had a short run but I was lucky enough to get the chance to see it.

Into the Wood Today

In December Disney pictures is bringing Into the Woods to the big screen.  This marks the first theatrical film adaptation of a Broadway play or musical ever produced by The Walt Disney Company.

Meryl Streep will be playing the Wicked Witch and Johnny Depp will be the Wolf.

I am not sure how I feel about this new version of the musical.

First of all, I am an Into the Woods purist.  I love Bernadette Peters in the role and I am not sure Meryl Streep can fill the shoes based upon her Mama Mia performance.

I am also not sure if I am going to like all of the CGI they will be using.  There is something about the small stage that makes it special.  The artsy tone of the movie trailers makes me think they may have taken it to far.

Into the Woods Movie - Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood

Finally, I am not sure all of the actors can sing.  I am not a fan of making musicals using actors that can’t sing and then auto-tuning them.

And I was really upset to learn that many of my favorite songs did not make it into the movie… “I Guess This is Goodbye”, “Maybe They’re Magic”,  “First Midnight”, “Second Midnight”, “Act I Finale: Ever After”, “Act II Prologue: So Happy” and “No More”.

It seems they have reduced the role of Jack and taken away some of the quipiness I so enjoyed with the songs at the beginning of each act.

Don’t get me wrong, I will see the movie but I am just not sure if it will meet this fan’s expectations.

What do you think – will it be as good as the play?


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