The folks over at Disney have to be tearing their collective hair out this morning. It seems that "Into the Woods" composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim has spilled the beans on the studio's upcoming filmic adaptation of the musical (directed by Rob Marshall and starring Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt and Anna Kendrick, among others) and revealed that some conservative changes have been made.
Speaking to a group of high school theatre teachers, the Tony winner addressed one question about the perceived edginess of the production, such as the connection between Red Riding Hood and the wolf being a sexual one. The conversation was about the challenge of dealing with that in a high school production, but Sondheim took the opportunity to mention that Disney had similar objections.
Here is what Sondheim had to say, and if you've never seen "Into the Woods" on stage, it offers both SPOILERS of that production and, of course, of the film adaptation:
"You will find in the movie that Rapunzel does not get killed and the prince does not sleep with the [Baker's Wife]. You know, if I were a Disney executive I probably would say the same thing.
That last note of modest diplomacy notwithstanding, I can't imagine this was the kind of information (which will no doubt cause a major fuss in theatre circles and lead to this being a "thing" ahead of release) that the studio wanted out there. But there it is, alas.
Sondheim also revealed that the song "Any Moment" had "probably" been cut, given the narrative change regarding Cinderella's Prince and the Baker's Wife.
Sondheim also said he and "Into the Woods" book writer James Lapine stuck up for the inclusion of the popular song, "but Disney said, 'We don't want Rapunzel to die, so we replotted it." He wouldn't go so far as to further spoil what happens now, but he did reveal that a new song had been written to cover the alteration.
"Into the Woods" will make its way into theaters Christmas Day.