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Stephen Sondheim Reveals Disney's Sanitized Plot Changes For 'Into the Woods'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist June 19, 2014 at 9:24AM

A twisted take on classic fairy tales, featuring no shortage of sexual innuendo and other not-family-friendly deeds, it was not a matter of what Disney would change in their big screen adaptation of "Into The Woods," but how much of it would get tweaked. Well, according to the musical's original writer Stephen Sondheim, a fair bit.
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Into The Woods

A twisted take on classic fairy tales, featuring no shortage of sexual innuendo and other not-family-friendly deeds, it was not a matter of what Disney would change in their big screen adaptation of "Into The Woods," but how much of it would get tweaked. Well, according to the musical's original writer Stephen Sondheim, a fair bit.

In a recent article in The New Yorker, Sondheim revealed the various changes that Disney has made to his Broadway hit, and fans will likely be disappointed (warning: some spoilers ahead). Where to start? How about the sexually charged encounter between Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) and the Wolf (Johnny Depp). According to Sondheim, Disney had "objections" over how it originally played with the Wolf lusting after a little girl, and it doesn't end there with the stuff they didn't like about the original "Into The Woods." 

"You will find in the movie that Rapunzel [Mackenzie Mauzy] does not get killed, and the prince [Chris Pine] does not sleep with the [Baker's Wife, played by Emily Blunt]." And speaking of the latter scene, in which Cinderella's prince effectively cheats on her, the song connected to the sequence, "Any Moment," has also "probably" been cut, with Sondheim writing a new tune for the scene. But while Sondheim seems not particularly pleased with these edits, he's also pragmatic about it all too.

"You know, if I were a Disney executive I probably would say the same thing," he said, adding: "...censorship is part of our puritanical ethics...There has to be a point at which you don't compromise anymore, but that may mean that you won't get anyone to sell your painting or perform your musical. You have to deal with reality."

So the question is whether the compromise is worth having a big budget adaptation of your work by a major studio. Well, for Sondheim, it's clearly an uncomfortable fit but one he's willing to go along with for now. "Into The Woods" opens on Christmas Day. Check out theatre videos below of the sequences likely cut or altered in Disney's movie. [Playbill/USA Today]

This article is related to: Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods


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