Expectations high for ‘Into the Woods’ adaptation

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Expectations high for ‘Into the Woods’ adaptation

NEW YORK - “Into the Woods, who knows what may be lurking on the journey?” goes a lyric from the beloved 1987 Stephen Sondheim musical. It also sums up the fears many ardent Sondheim fans had when they learned a movie version was coming.

Who knew, indeed, what dangers might be lurking on the journey from stage to screen? Would movie actors be up to the musical demands? Would a Disney film aimed at families be faithful to the original, including the decidedly darker themes that emerge in the second half?

Members of the star-studded cast say they were certainly aware of the expectations.

“People would say, ‘Oh, you’re doing ‘Into the Woods’?” says Chris Pine, who plays Prince Charming. “And then they’d get very quiet. And very serious. And then my heart would start to beat a bit faster.”

The musical wittily mashes up a number of fairy tales - “Jack and the Beanstalk,” ‘’Cinderella,” ‘’Little Red Riding Hood” and “Rapunzel” - and adds characters of its own, namely a baker and his wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt), who desperately want a baby but are cursed to be childless by a vengeful witch (Meryl Streep) with her own agenda.

Blunt’s part as the baker’s wife has brought her a Golden Globe nod, along with cast mate Streep. She says she found the project “challenging and daunting and intimidating.

“But at the same time, it’s material that you can delve into and explore in a very profound way,” Blunt says. “So it’s what you want as an actor.”

Unlike Blunt, many of the actors chosen by director Rob Marshall had serious musical theater experience like Anna Kendrick (Cinderella), who was already singing on Broadway at age 12.

“This is one of those great shows where not only do you want to do it, you want to do every role,” says Kendrick. “I want to be Little Red, I want to be Jack, I want to play the baker, I want to play the witch, and that just shows you how compelling every single character is.”

Kendrick is not your typical fairy-tale Cinderella; she’s brainy and thoughtful and not exactly sure Prince Charming is all he’s cracked up to be. Even though he looks like, well, Chris Pine. “She’s very modern and sort of neurotic,” Kendrick says. “She rejects love that is just not good enough. It’s better than the situation she was in before, but she’s brave enough to say, no, I still deserve better.”

The movie was released on Wednesday in Korea.


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