By Georgianna Pisano-Goetz ’15, Contributing Writer
The box office success of Disney’s Snow White and the Huntsman seems to have led into an age of grim and gritty, live-action fairytale adaptations. Disney’s most recent endeavors include an adaptation of the Broadway musical Into the Woods and a Cinderella film, not to mention the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel.
The F&M Players beat Disney to the punch as they put on their performance of Into the Woods last weekend. The faux fairytale play was adapted into an original musical by Stephen Sondheim, based on the novel by Franklin & Marshall alumnus James Lapine ’71. The F&M Player’s choice to perform Into the Woods this season is especially topical due to Disney’s announcement that they are currently adapting the Broadway musical into a feature film.
By adapting this dystopian — fairy tale and later on Cinderella—Disney has effectively circumvented its self-imposed princess pause. Disney had previously stated that it would be temporarily ceasing its production of Disney princesses following this Christmas’ box office smash Frozen. The move was seen as a ploy to diversify its offerings and attract young male viewers. Marketing strategies to this effect were seen when their Rapunzel adaptation was renamed Tangled and plotted to involve a male colead. However, these darker, live action films seem to be marketed to a completely other audience, namely older moviegoers.
Into the Woods is an interesting choice because it not only recalls classic Disney princesses back into the fold but also appeals to an older set rather than Disney’s usual target audience. Not many details on specifics of the adap- tation are available, but those familiar with the play or those who attended the F&M Player’s performance will know that these classic tales take on a darker spin in the musical. So it appears that Into the Woods may be meant for a different crowd than the usual young Disney fans.
The stage musical to screen trend calls to mind last Christmas’ Les Miserables. Similar to the French revolutionary tale big-screen adaptation, Into the Woods will mix Hollywood’s favorites with those truly musically inclined.
Meryl Streep will take the role of the witch while Anna Kendrick, who began her career with a Tony nomination at the ripe young age of 12, will star as Cinderella with Chris Pine by her side as the prince. Jake Gyllenhaal was previously confirmed as Rapunzel’s prince, but has been replaced by British actor Billy Magnussen (The Brass Teapot). Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, Salmon Fishing in Yemen) will be an original character to the play, the Baker’s wife, while British actor James Corden (Doctor Who) will play the Baker. Johnny Depp will take the role of the Big Bad Wolf, working again with Pirates of the Caribbean director Rob Marshall.
Much like Les Miserables, Into the Woods will also feature a new, original song by Stephen Sondheim. Following in the footsteps of musical movie adaptation Les Mis with an original song and the film’s Christmas 2014 date, Into the Woods has declared itself Oscar bait.
Lapine, who wrote the stage musical with Stephen Sondheim, will adapt the play for the screen. Into the Woods’ release date is currently Christmas Day 2014 and will be followed by the live- action Cinderella film directed by Kenneth Branagh on March 13, 2015.