“Into the woods, without delay, But careful not to lose the way. Into the woods, who knows what may be lurking on the journey?”
Disney’s INTO THE WOODS hits theaters on Christmas Day and with its star-studded cast (that already includes multiple award nominations), it is one not to miss! I just returned from LA after attending a special #IntoTheWoodsEvent trip hosted by Disney, where we had the pleasure of screening the film at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater (the official “Academy” Theatre) and interviewing a large portion of the cast & crew (including Meryl Streep). What an experience! I’ll be sharing lots from that in upcoming posts, but first let’s talk about the film itself! For those unfamiliar with the Broadway show (which premiered on November 5, 1987 and ran for 764 performances, winning Tony® Awards for Best Score, Best Book of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical) or the plot line in general, here is the synopsis:
“Into the Woods” is a modern twist on several beloved fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), all tied together by an original story involving a Baker and his Wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the Witch (Meryl Streep), who has put a curse on them.
Rob Marshall, the acclaimed filmmaker behind the Academy Award®-winning musical “Chicago” and Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” directs the film, which is based on the musical stage production by legendary eight-time Tony, Grammy® and Oscar-winning composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim and Tony® winner James Lapine, who also wrote the screenplay.
What a production! As a lover of musical theater (& former high school drama performer), it’s no surprise that I loved the movie! In fact, I really actually felt in some spots that I was watching live theater, which I LOVE! Now, of course, that could have been the setting in the amazing theater with some of the cast present (Chris Pine was sitting just 3 rows behind me!). But the show and singing in this are just incredible!!! Director Rob Marshall put together an absolutely fabulous cast! In the Q&A that followed the film, Rob referred to them as a true company and it shows in the film. They have such a great chemistry and deep respect for one another that is obvious both on & off “stage”. It was such a joy to see them all together during the Q&A! Here are a few fun shots from that…I LOVE Meryl’s Into the Woods inspired skirt!
I’m sure it comes as no surprise to hear that Meryl Streep is BRILLIANT as the Witch! She’s neurotic, and evil, and selfish, and yet there is so much depth there – so much so that you actually find yourself feeling a little sorry for her and even relating to her in some scenes. In fact, the song “Stay with Me” really tugs at your heart strings , especially as a mom. Even though the Witch has taken “protection” and “control” to all kinds of abusive levels, as a parent I can completely relate to wanting to shield your children from all the horrible things in the world. “The world is dark and wild. Stay a child while you can be a child. With me.” Tears. And, y’all, Meryl can SING!! In fact, everyone in the cast can sing very well.Anna Kendrick is incredible as Cinderella. She has such a phenomenal voice! But, Emily Blunt, James Corden, and yes, even Chris Pine all do such a fantastic job with their singing roles. Then you have stars like Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, and Johnny Depp in great character parts! They were all perfect in their roles! And, oh my goodness, the child actors in this are brilliant!!! Daniel Huttlestone who plays Jack also played Gavroche in Les Miserables (my favorite musical) and he’s a delight in this film!!! I loved him in Les Mis and he is absolutely fabulous as Jack. His performance of Giants in the Sky is phenomenal. And, Lilla Crawford who plays Little Red Riding Hood has such a mature, booming voice for a young girl. Truly incredible! So truly the cast is amazing, as are the costumes and visuals in the movie. Much of the film is set in those mysterious woods. So, it’s dark and eerie and just fanciful enough to have that fairytale feel. Yet, it’s not overdone and I think this is why I felt like I was watching live theater in many of the scenes. In movies, there is the ability to let the cinematography & visuals almost overpower the actual actors & plot. But, that is not the case here. While you still have some amazingly grand scenes, there really is a focus on the actors & music! Rob Marshall is brilliant at this and it’s just so well done!
Family-friendly film & Important Reminders for Parents…
Disney’s Into the Woods is NOT your typical “Disney fairytale”. So, it’s important to know that going in. This is much darker – more like the Grimm’s Fairy Tales from which they’re based. The movie is rated PG though, so it’s definitely a great family-friendly film –especially if you have older kids. I tend to be a little more conservative on my age recommendations than most. But given the darkness of the fairy tales (there is death and some scary scenes), and the intellectual/emotional depth to the storyline, this isn’t a show for little kids. I think somewhere between 8-10 years old (depending on the child) is probably the youngest appropriate age for this movie.
But, for that age range and up, this movie is absolutely spectacular and I can’t wait until my boys are old enough to see it. And, while a lot of the movie is hilarious, there are some very serious scenes with such important messages. Not only do you need to be careful what you wish for, but you are not alone! The world can be so scary and uncertain and kids need to know that they are NOT alone–even when you make mistakes; even when bad things happen; even when you feel like it. This is portrayed in the beautiful song “No One Is Alone”. James Corden does such an incredible job with it – it’s such a heartfelt scene!
The finale in the show also is a really important message on children…and parenting…and wishes in general. And as a mom, I found myself getting all teary (and I wasn’t the only one either! 😉 ). As parents, we’re entrusted with the most beautiful little gifts and oh how we need to be careful with them!
Careful the wish you make,
Wishes are children.
Careful the path they take,
Wishes come true,
Careful the spell you cast,
Not just on children.
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you…
So, be sure to go Into the woods, without delay, on Christmas Day! You’ll laugh, you may cry (like me), and you’ll certainly be entertained with the magic of the woods and the phenomenal cast!
Are YOU excited to see Into the Woods?
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