Audiences everywhere know Disney for their fairy tales featuring “happily ever after” endings. But what if this idea of “happily ever after” wasn’t quite what the characters expected after all? This is the question that the 1987 musical Into the Woods seeks to answer, and that Disney will soon be bringing to the big screen. This week, it was announced that Disney, in conjunction with director Rob Marshall and LUCAMAR Productions, will be adapting this classic musical into a film.
Into the Woods is a musical that weaves together classic fairy tales (Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood) with the original story of a Baker and his wife, who must go into the woods on a quest to reverse the curse that prevents them from bearing a child. However, the characters’ “happily ever after” endings are only the beginning of the story, as the musical goes on to deconstruct these tales and the consequences of getting one’s wish, with some darker themes pervading the story. This makes the musical an interesting choice for Disney to be bringing to the screen, and we’re curious to see how the musical develops under the Disney name. The show features a book by James Lapine and score by legendary musical theatre composer Stephen Sondheim, who will both be working to adapt the musical for the screen.
Also bringing Into the Woods to the screen will be director Rob Marshall, who recently worked with Disney on the summer blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The film is being developed under a new multi-year deal between Disney and Marshall’s production company with John DeLuca, LUCAMAR Productions. Marshall is no stranger to the movie musical, however, having directed the 2002 film Chicago and 2009’s Nine. Marshall is also a former Broadway director and choreographer, directing the 1998 revival of Cabaret and choreographing such shows as Cabaret, Victor/Victoria, and Damn Yankees.
In a statement, Marshall and DeLuca said about the project:
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine on this extraordinary and inspiring work. We are greatly looking forward to continuing our creative and rewarding relationship with Rich Ross, Sean Bailey and the ever supportive team at Disney.”
James Lapine, the show’s original book writer and director who will be adapting the musical for the film’s screenplay, is a three-time Tony Award winner for Best Book of a Musical, and seven-time Tony nominee for Best Director. His other work includes The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Falsettos, and the recent Sondheim revue Sondheim on Sondheim. Stephen Sondheim, who is regarded as one of the greatest musical theatre composers of all time, is an eight-time Tony Award winner, known for his music in such shows as Follies, Sweeney Todd, Company, and as the lyricist of West Side Story. Sondheim and Lapine’s previous collaborations include the Pulitzer Prize winning 1984 musical Sunday in the Park with George and the 1994 musical Passion.
About Sondheim, Marshall says:
“He’s a genius when it comes to his score, but what’s so extraordinary is, he really understands all the elements of theater — the choreography, the book and the production design — and has an amazing sense of the whole.”
This is not the first attempt at bringing Into the Woods to the screen. In 1994, a reading was held of the film adaptation, which was set to star Robin Williams, Goldie Hawn, and Cher; a later attempt at Columbia Pictures had actors Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, and Susan Sarandon in talks to star, with both adaptations featuring puppets built by the Jim Henson Company. Stay tuned for more details on this exciting new adaptation.