Fans of the Broadway musical Into the Woods might want to steer clear of the upcoming Disney adaptation. The show, a provocative twist on fairy tale classics, has been hailed for decades for its transgressive upending of classical characters like Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Cinderella. Yet, in a move as disappointing as it is unexpected, it appears that much of the grown-up content from the musical will be removed from the film.
The iconoclastic composer Stephen Sondheim recently gave a talk to a group of drama school teachers (covered in the recent edition of The New Yorker) when the subject of censorship came up. More specifically, regarding the how appropriate it is to stage plays with very adult themes. Sondheim’s Into the Woods involves serious subjects including infidelity, death, and highly sexualized scenes between a young Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. “Well, you’ll be happy to know that Disney had the same objections,” Sondheim said. It would appear that the Mouse House has cleaned up Into the Woods, which will incense fans of the musical, but makes perfect sense when you consider that Disney is trying to sell a family friendly product over the coveted holiday season.
Sounds like there’s a lot more to the story, but Sondheim tactfully kept himself calm while discussing edits to one of his works. For spoilers sake, we won’t include them in this article, but suffice it say, revisions have apparently been made, and at least one new song will be featured to help cover up some of the tweaks.
James Lapine wrote the screenplay for the film, which is due in theaters on Christmas Day. The cast includes Meryl Streep as The Witch, James Corden as The Baker, Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella. and Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince.