This Christmas Walt Disney Pictures takes us Into the Woods. Director Rob Marshall (Chicago) brings another beloved Broadway gem to the screens with a fantastic ensemble that includes Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, James Cordon, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Beranski and Meryl Streep. Haven’t seen the musical? Want to know more about Disney’s take? Check out these surprising tidbits about this Winter’s release.
1. Sondheim’s Into the Woods is Disney’s first adaptation of a pre-existing Broadway musical. Over the years, it’s garnered fame in theater as a popular production to put on world wide. It interweaves some very familiar story lines like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk. It’s centers around a baker and his wife who can’t conceive a baby and must lift the curse a witch placed on the Baker’s family line after his father stole from her garden. The witch asks the couple to retrieve some key items from fairytales like Cinderella’s slipper and Red Ridding Hood’s cape in order to break the curse, thus sending them into the woods.
2. Yes, it’s fairytales but not like we know them and no it’s not Once Upon a Time either. Disney will be keeping the darker themes of the cautionary tales within the musical which criticizes the nature of romanticizing Grimm’s original stories. So don’t expect it to be a rehashing of the Disney canon princesses. It’s kind of like Disney’s being self-aware and putting out a film that demonstrates they can continue their legacy while also updating it to reflect that sometimes things don’t always just magically work out and there are consequences for your actions. It’s like they’re being Taylor Swift in the Blank Space video.
3. It’s a Tony award winner multiple times over. In 1988 the original production won in the categories of Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. Not only that but it beat out Phantom of the Opera in all those categories as well but lost to Phantom for the Best Musical Award Tony. In 2002 it won a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.
4. Many of the cast members of Disney’s adaptation have been in numerous films based off musicals. This is the Johnny Depp’s second turn in a Sondheim. He’s playing the Big Bad Wolf after his 2007 performance as Sweeney Todd in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Christine Beranski reunites with her Mama Mia! costar Meryl Streep and Chicago director Rob Marshall as Cinderella’s stepmother. Rob Marshall has directed three other stage to screen pictures based on musicals including: Chicago, Nine and a tv-movie version of Annie. Anna Kendrick is will follow up this with a film adaptation of a recent Broadway hit The Next Five Years in early 2015. Kendrick’s previous musical film, not based on theater production Pitch Perfect and James Cordon who plays the baker was in the film musical Begin Again.
5. And most importantly Meryl Streep fills the role of Into the Woods‘ iconic Witch. A role which has over the years been portrayed by many fellow powerhouse actresses. In the original production Bernadette Peters played Sondheim’s musically intricate character. Vanessa Williams and Donna Murphy (who played Mother Gothel in Tangled) are also known for the role. The part is definitely one of the most coveted roles in all of theater and we can’t wait to see Ms. Streep kill it!
Oh can’t wait to hear Streep’s performance and her witch rap? Check out the pre-order for the film’s soundtrack here.
Into the Woods opens December 25th.