Theater Classic Hits the Big Screen

Into the Woods has a star-studded cast, with Meryl Streep as the witch. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Into the Woods has a star-studded cast, with Meryl Streep as the witch. Courtesy of Wikipedia

By Nicole Horton

Into the Woods, the movie version of Stephen Sondheim’s Tony award-winning musical, premieres on Christmas Day. Previews have shown tantalizing scenes of Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine dressed in fantastic costumes, while at the same time providing a glimpse of the score. A witch plots to teach important lessons to various characters of popular children’s stories including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel.

The film features a star-studded cast, including Meryl Streep as The Witch, Johnny Depp as The Wolf, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, Christine Baranski as Cinderella’s step-mother, Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince and Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife. The cast faces the challenge of delivering a modern adaptation of an iconic musical and timeless stories that many people grew up hearing.

“Rob Marshall brings a modern sensibility to all of these characters,” Anna Kendrick told The Fordham Ram, among other university newspaper outlets. “Since these stories belong to the ages, it makes sense that we update them. I think modern women have a tendency to overthink everything and not go with their gut. She’s doing that the entire piece until something that she really has to reck- on with happens. Suddenly it’s very clear for her what has to happen.”

Kendrick goes on to describe how women need to ask if a man understands what she is saying, even in her character’s case when he appears to be Prince Charming. Sometimes that means choosing the unknown over security.

“It’s based on the stories that parents have told their children for generations, so there’s the element where it’s pure fantasy and exciting for kids,” said Kendrick. “For parents, we have to be careful what we tell our children; children take lessons to heart. It’s our responsibility to prepare them for the reality of the world, which is really the second half of the film.”

Chris Pine delved into what it was like taking a known, often reprised, role and making it his own. “For my part, everyone in this film goes through these wonderfully complex journeys. My prince is way more two dimensional than that; he’s wonderfully self-absorbed. I had some fun bringing levity to the picture. There’s a bit of buffoon in the prince, and Cinderella gives him a chance to connect with her.”

Pine also mentioned that a month of rehearsal before filming helped the cast get to meet one another, get on the same page and form a sense of community. Pine’s co-stars have had a great deal of experience in the divisive genre of movie musicals, such as Meryl Streep and Christine Baranski who starred in Mamma Mia, and Johnny Depp who helmed Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In addition, Anna Kendrick starred in the movie Pitch Perfect, which featured a capella renditions of infectious pop hits.

“I had a lot of fun learning the ins and outs of the technique of the genre,” said Chris Pine. “I had a lot of incredibly talented people who have worked in this medium before, from Anna [Kendrick] to Meryl [Streep] to Christine [Baranski], so I had a lot of help around me.”

Nevertheless, Kendrick described the unique challenge that this film brought her despite her previous experience singing on camera. “It was a lot harder. We’re singing pop music in Pitch Perfect and Sondheim in this. I was petrified and excited. It was an unbelievable challenge. It was just a dream come true.”


Nicole Horton is the Culture Editor for The Fordham Ram. 


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