Disney Launches DVD of Film Adaptation of Sondheim’s Into the Woods with Great Fanfare
By: Ellis Nassour
Who could have said or sung it better than Cinderella herself: "A dream is a wish your heart makes come true." And if you’ve been wishing upon a star since 1987 to have a stunning keepsake of Sondheim’s beloved classic Into the Woods, your dream, your wish has come true. Disney’s film adaptation by James Lapine [who directed the original Broadway musical] and directed by Rob Marshall (Oscar-winning Chicago film adaption) is now a wonderful gift for perennial viewing for every adult and young adult theater lover [Disney Home Entertainment; Blu-ray combo pack; SRP $40; 125 minutes].
This isn’t a Disney kidpic. Based on four classic tales by the Brothers Grimm, you might expect it to be dark [even in the use of color] and, even with its PG rating, more for adults than the kiddie trade. Though it’s not always happily ever after, this isn’t to say children beyond first or second grade won’t enjoy its many comic elements. However, some of it might soar over their heads.
Iconic fairy tale characters Cinderella, Cinderella’s stepmother and her daughters, Jack of beanstalk fame, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, not to mention Milky White and a very angry Giant find their fates intertwined with a humble baker and his wife, whose longing to have a child sends them on a quest to reverse a witch’s curse.
Those daring to go into the enchanted woods are: Christine Baranski as Cinderella’s stepmother, Simon Russell Beale as the Baker’s father, Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife, James Corden as the Baker, Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood, Johnny Depp as the Wolf, Daniel Huttlestone as Jack, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel’s prince, MacKenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel, Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince, Meryl Streep as the Witch, and Tracey Ullman as Jack’s mother.
Streep performs a tune cut from the film, "She’ll Be Back," by Sondheim and Lapine, "that sheds light on the Witch’s relationship with Rapunzel."
Paul Gemignani reprises his contribution to the musical as music supervisor. He conducts Jonathan Tunick’s orchestrations. Costumes are by three-time Oscar winner [11 nominations] Colleen Atwood. Kudos go to the large contingent of make-up, hair, and effects designers. Oscar winner Dion Beebe [Marshall’s Memoirs of a Geisha] is the cinematographer.
The film has been described as "growing up innocent and learning the truth about the world – discovering it isn’t always as it should be. So, be careful what you wish for because it’s not always what you expected."
To celebrate the Blu-ray/DVD release and Sondheim’s March 22 birthday (his 85th), 42 West [514 West 42nd Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, in the Out Hotel), producing artistic director Jacob Langfelder is presenting a special cabaret event on Sunday, All-Star Broadway Cabaret Performance of Stephen Sondheim’s Music with an all-star line-up of performers. Showtime is 8 P.M., with arrivals beginning at 7 P.M
Langfelder is describing it as "a celebration of the journey of Into the Woods and Stephen Sondheim from stage to screen."
Singing songs from the musical – such as "Agony," "Children Will Listen," "Giants in the Sky," and "No One Is Alone" – and other Sondheim classics will be three stars of the film – Crawford, Magnussen, and Mauzy – along with Tituss Burgess, Lance Horne, Welz Kauffman, Norm Lewis, Michael McElroy, Constantine Maroulis, Michael Moritz Jr., Kristen Olness, Molly Pope, Christopher Sieber, Rufus Wainwright, Michael-Leon Wooley, Karen Ziemba and Chip Zien. Hosting will be Sirius XM On Broadway Channel’s Julie James, Christine Pedi, and Seth Rudetsky.
Into the Woods had an estimated budget of $50-million, and it shows onscreen. There are enough differences and omissions from the original to give dedicated fans plenty to quibble about. The film adaptation is produced by actor/choreographer John DeLuca, Marshall, and Callum McDougall (Skyfall, upcoming Spectre).
The Into the Wood film adaptation is produced by actor/choreographer John DeLuca, Marshall, and Callum McDougall (Skyfall, upcoming Spectre).
The Blu-ray is loaded with bonuses, including access to musical song segments from the film, with optional sing-along lyrics and featurettes: There’s Something About the Woods , a journey with Marshall and his team into the mysterious forest for a scoop on how the film was made; The Cast As Good As Gold; and Deeper Into the Woods on the screen adaptation, special effects, costume and production design.