Into the Woods is in cinemas tomorrow, but it was not a perfect transition from stage to screen.
The film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical features an all-star cast of Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, and many more. But what went missing between Broadway stage and silver screen? Major spoilers ahead for stage musical and film.
In order to streamline the story and cut down the runtime, several songs from the original stage show did not make the cut. Most notably were the Baker’s Wife’s “Maybe They’re Magic,” which she sings to her husband after Jack sells his cow for five magic (she claims) beans. The Act One Finale (notable highlight “Ever After”) and the Act Two Prologue (“So Happy”) were also lost, along with sections of the Act Two Finale.
“No More” — between the Baker and his father — was also cut, as was “I Guess This is Goodbye” — Jack’s farewell to his beloved cow. The final sacrifices were “First Midnight” and “Second Midnight,” the sections during the show when the characters update the audience directly on their situation using clichés — or Sondheim’s version of clichés.
Forever actress MacKenzie Mauzy is no stranger to Broadway, and it showed in her dreamy performance of Rapunzel. But vocals aside, very little of Rapunzel’s storyline was preserved in the film. In the stage musical, Rapunzel’s fate is arguably the most tragic; after discovering her romance with her Prince, the Witch abandons her in the desert where she gives birth to twins before her Prince rescues her.
When the giant threatens the kingdom, Rapunzel flees in a fit of hysteria. It is revealed that she has been driven mad by the Witch’s treatment of her, and she runs into the path of the giant and is trampled. In the film this madness is downplayed, and she is abandoned in a swamp, rather than the desert, and minus the twins. In the end, Rapunzel and her Prince ride off together — and aren’t seen again.
The Princes’ love lives
Cinderella’s prince and Rapunzel’s prince are the other characters with largely different story lines in the film. Like Rapunzel, her prince (played by Billy Magnussen) is essentially written out of the film two-thirds of the way through. Cinderella’s prince (Chris Pine) is also treated more sympathetically; after his and Cinderella’s break up, they part on good terms and he is not seen again.
Both princes show much less (read: no) character development in the original musical. They both grow bored of their wives after finding their so-called happily ever after, and begin lusting for two other beautiful maidens who have caught their eye. They turn up with these new loves at the end of the show — none other than Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.
The entire character of the Narrator was removed from the Into the Woods movie. This was slightly disappointing, albeit not surprising. After all, this is no typical Narrator. A character, rather than an omniscient voice, in the stage show, the Narrator lurks on stage commenting on the action as it takes place. But not all of the characters are pleased with the way he narrates the story — especially the Witch.
In a very meta turn of events, when the vengeful female Giant demands that the crowd hand Jack over, they give her the Narrator instead, deciding that they will navigate the story without his guidance. In the film, James Corden as the Baker narrates instead, which ties into the end of the film when he begins telling the story we have just witnessed to his young son.
The Mysterious Man
The second major character missing entirely from the film is the Mysterious Man (interestingly, the roles of the Narrator and the Mysterious Man are often played by the same actor in the stage show). The Mysterious Man plays a similar role to the Witch by encouraging the characters to break the spell while in the woods — and speaking in rhyming nonsense.
He is later revealed as the Baker’s father, who is trying to make amends for abandoning his son and being responsible for the curse on the family. The Mysterious Man dies halfway through the show, when the curse is broken. The Witch (Meryl Streep) is used in the film to replace some of the Mysterious Man’s scenes, but the confrontation between the Baker and the ghost of his father remains intact.