I'm sure most of you have heard about Disney's new movie musical "Into the Woods" based off of the Broadway Musical of the same name by Stephen Sondheim. I'm not going to lie, as a theatre nerd, I am super stoked about it.
For those that aren't familiar, what this musical does is take your favorite fairy tales (Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Rapunzel to name a few) and crams them all together in a mega show. What's really interesting is that Act One is a typical fairy tale and ends in a happy wedding. In Act Two, literally everything goes to shit. The musical is dark, funny, a classic and twisted fairy tale all wrapped up in one package.
Back to the story, it's recently been reported that several key plot points are being changed for the movie. It's being done to make the movie more "family-friendly". One of the characters no longer dies, and some of the more sexually laced moments/relationships are being cut. (Which may lead to one of my favorite songs being cut...no bueno)
Did Disney miss the point of this musical? Act One shows us the typical fairy tale characters, and Act Two shows us that they can be fallible humans, who can (shocker) die and have sexual relationships. I personally think by making these changes, they're leaving out the point. The musical wasn't meant to be totally family friendly. Why does the movie have to be?
Which leaves me with a few questions. What is this going to be rated? What would have it been rated if they had left the plot alone?
And the biggest question of all: Should Disney have produced this?
Would the plot have been left alone if another company who didn't need to cater to a specific target audience had taken it on?
I always get annoyed when theaters (especially schools) produce shows and make cuts to make it more suitable for their actors/audiences. I always say if you need to make drastic changes to a script in order to please people, pick a different show to do.
Maybe Disney should have done Into the Woods Jr. (the version of the script for schools, which is, not surprisingly, only act one.) Maybe it would have been better for them.
Ranting aside, I will say I have not lost all hope. This is because Sondheim is attached to the project, so he was probably involved in cuts and script compromises.
I guess we'll find out on Christmas won't we?
UPDATE: Here is an official statement released by Sondheim. Apparently, the New Yorker got it half wrong:
"An article in The New Yorker misreporting my "Master Class" conversation about censorship in our schools with seventeen teachers from the Academy for Teachers a couple of weeks ago has created some false impressions about my collaboration with the Disney Studio on the film version of "Into the Woods." The fact is that James (Lapine, who wrote both the show and the movie) and I worked out every change from stage to screen with the producers and with Rob Marshall, the director. Despite what the New Yorker article may convey, the collaboration was genuinely collaborative and always productive.
When the conversation with the teachers occurred, I had not yet seen a full rough cut of the movie. Coincidentally, I saw it immediately after leaving the meeting and, having now seen it a couple of times, I can happily report that it is not only a faithful adaptation of the show, it is a first-rate movie.
And for those who care, as the teachers did, the Prince's dalliance is still in the movie, and so is "Any Moment.""
So. That last mini paragraph is my favorite part.
What do you guys think?