Disney Starts Shooting Into the Woods

Under Alan Horn’s leadership, Disney is delving further into its fairy tale heritage. While Kenneth Branagh is currently making Cinderella in England (March 2015), Rob Marshall has started production this week in the UK on Stephen Sondheim’s much darker Into the Woods musical, slated for a Christmas 2014 release.

The Oscar-winning Marshall (Chicago) has teamed with Tony winner James Lapine (who wrote the screenplay) and producers John DeLuca, Marc Platt, and Callum McDougall.

Into the Woods is a post-modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests, turning “happily ever after” on its head. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel — all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.

A few songs have reportedly been cut (including “No More,” which has been replaced by dialogue between the Baker and his father), and Sondheim has written a new song (apparently a transition after “Lament”).

The all-star ensemble cast includes:

  • Meryl Streep (August: Osage County) portrays the Witch who wishes to reverse a curse so that her beauty may be restored.
  • Emily Blunt (Looper) is the Baker’s Wife, a childless woman who longs to be a mother.
  • James Corden (Broadway’s One Man, Two Guvnors) plays the role of the Baker, a hard-working man who desperately wants to start a family.
  • Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) fills the shoes of Cinderella, who finds herself on a journey of self-discovery.
  •  Chris Pine (Star Trek Into Darkness) portrays Cinderella’s Prince, charming and impossibly handsome, who is on an endless quest to find his bride.
  • Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) steps in as the Wolf, who sets his sights on Little Red Riding Hood.
  • Lilla Crawford (Broadway’s Annie) makes her feature-film debut as Little Red Riding Hood, a smart and spunky girl who journeys into the woods, finding unexpected adventures along the way.
  • Daniel Huttlestone (Les Misérables) lands the role of Jack, an absentminded and adventurous boy who trades his treasured cow for five magic beans.
  • Tracey Ullman joins the cast as Jack’s Mother, a poor and exasperated mom who is overwhelmed, yet fiercely protective of her son.
  • Christine Baranski (Mamma Mia!) takes on the infamous Stepmother who wishes for riches and grandeur; she’ll do anything to marry off one of her daughters to a prince.
  • MacKenzie Mauzy (Brother’s Keeper) plays Rapunzel, a sheltered young woman who experiences the world beyond her tower for the first time.
  • Billy Magnussen (Broadway’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) is the dashing and eager Prince who courts Rapunzel.

Celebrated actors from the stage and screen fill the supporting roles, including Tammy Blanchard (Blue Jasmine) and Lucy Punch (Bad Teacher) as Cinderella’s spoiled stepsisters, Florinda and Lucinda. Richard Glover (Sightseers) is the Princes’ royal steward, Frances de la Tour (Hugo) portrays the giant, and Simon Russell Beale (The Deep Blue Sea) is the Baker’s father. Actress Joanna Riding (My Fair Lady) portrays Cinderella’s late mother, and Little Red Riding Hood’s beloved granny is played by Annette Crosbie (Calendar Girls).

The big-screen adaptation welcomes songs from the stage musical, including “Children Will Listen,” “Giants in the Sky,” “On the Steps of the Palace,” “No One Is Alone,” and “Agony,” among others.

The award-winning production team includes Dion Beebe (Chicago), Oscar winner for the Marshall-helmed Memoirs of a Geisha, as director of photography. Dennis Gassner (Skyfall), who won his own Oscar for Bugsy, serves as production designer, and three-time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood (Memoirs of a Geisha, Chicago, Alice In Wonderland) is costume designer.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Books, Cinematography, Costume, Movies, Music, Production Design, Tech

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