georgiaing: whatwouldjessicajonesdo: HE WAS IN INTO THE WOODS…

Thursday, February 4th, 2016




because no one knows who tf he is

The Baker never gets any respect. It’s like in the original cast video, when Chip Zien comes out when they’re taking their bows and he gets, like, zero audible love. And I know it’s partly because he was sandwiched between Joanna and Bernadette, but still. And he gives that little look to the audience.

That little look slays me every time.

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Into The Woods

Monday, January 5th, 2015


So I went to see the movie of Into The Woods yesterday. I hadn’t ever seen the musical on stage so I didn’t have any particular expectations. I enjoyed it, but found some of it problematic, and it’s hard to know if some of the problematic aspects were due to the compression of the story to fit into a 2 hour film.

The highlight, though, was probably the man-pain song.

[spoilers below in my not-very-articulate comments.]

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I loved reading your perspective on the movie. Most of the points you raised are things I never thought of while watching the musical, and then didn’t mind when I saw the movie, though I’m not sure how much of that is based on the differences between the movie and the musical, and on the differences between you and me of the past (since I first saw the musical about 20 years ago).

I guess one way to find out would be for you to now watch the musical, though based on your mixed reaction to the movie you might not want to. For my part I’d certainly encourage you to try if you’re willing; the movie is significantly truncated compared to the musical, and the longer version includes (among other things missing from the film) a reprise of the “Agony” song you liked, with an additional layer of wry commentary on the princes’ rivalry.

Spoiler-y discussion below.

I’m interested by your concern about ableism. Are you saying the creator of the songs (Sondheim) or book (Lapine) were being ableist when they included the blinding of the wicked stepsisters and of Rapunzel’s prince? They were intentionally referencing the darker elements from the Grimm fairy tales, which as far as I know do include those features. In the musical my sense is that those elements are treated in a lighter way (at least with the stepsisters). Is it the lighter tone that makes it seem ableist? I wonder if the nature of movies as a medium makes it harder to pull that off. Overall there’s a more realistic, and therefore darker, tone that comes through in the more macabre parts of the movie. I didn’t mind it, possibly because I knew it was coming and had been pre-conditioned to treat it lightly because of my experience of the musical. But I wonder, if I’d only seen the movie version, if I would have been bothered more by it.

On the issue of Woods-as-symbolic-of-sexual-danger, I definitely agree that that’s there in the storyline of Red and the Wolf, but I’m not sure it extends as far as the Baker’s Wife’s experience in the second act. The Baker’s Wife wanted that experience; it was the fulfillment of the wish she articulated in her earlier song with Cinderella, and even after it’s over she seems to have accommodated herself to it and to appreciate it having happened. So in that sense the woods were not operating as a symbol of sexual danger as much as a symbol of possibility, both good and bad.

Similarly, I don’t think the story punished her for what she did, though I can certainly understand drawing that conclusion. Especially in the movie, where the second half of the story is significantly compressed compared to the musical, it’s hard not to draw causal lines between the events. Without giving away too much about the musical, though, I got the sense that what happened to the Baker’s Wife was part of a larger series of tragedies that actually extends farther than it does in the movie, such that it wasn’t so much a direct result of her experience in the woods as it was just an unfortunate incident in an ongoing wave of badness that affected all the residents of the kingdom without being directed at any of them in particular.

In the same way, I didn’t see what happened to the Baker’s Wife as being just an arbitrary plot manipulation to give the Baker a personal growth opportunity. The Baker’s story, in particular (along with the Witch/Rapunzel story, to a lesser extent) really did suffer in the movie compared to the musical. Watching how things played out for them in the second half, I gave the movie a pass, because I was coming to the characters with a more complete knowledge of their stories than the movie had time to show.

None of this excuses the movie from the requirement that it work as an adaptation for members of the audience unfamiliar with the source material. That was always going to be a challenge, both because of the reduced length and because of the more-realistic tone of a movie compared to a musical. I do think that at least some of the things that didn’t work for you would become less problematic after viewing the musical. But whether or not you give that a try is, of course, up to you.

Oh, and on Meryl’s attractiveness before and after her transformation, I had a reaction that was more or less the mirror image of yours: I thought the bigger challenge the movie struggled with was conveying her “youth” and “beauty” afterwards, rather than making her look “old” and “ugly” beforehand. But again, I’m coming from having watched significantly younger and more-conventionally glamorous actors like Bernadette Peters (who was about 40 when she did the musical) and Vanessa Williams (who was 41 when I saw her) in the role. If I’m doing the math right, Meryl was 64 when she filmed the movie. And in the movie the camera is so much closer, such that the transformation is harder to pull off, because as you say, both before and after, look: it’s Meryl. Whereas on stage you can get away with a lot more in terms of makeup and costume and body language to make the change seem more dramatic.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing your thoughts about the movie, and please let me know if you decide to see the musical. :-)

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I guess I can understand someone not liking the film adaptation of Into the Woods, especially if…

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

I guess I can understand someone not liking the film adaptation of Into the Woods, especially if they’re going in with an “it must be a contest with the musical” perspective.

I feel bad for people who do that. Because they’re depriving themselves of the great movie I saw today.

We attended the first showing in Santa Barbara with a packed crowd, some of whom clearly knew every line, others who had no idea what was coming.

It was a blast.

I won’t get into what my favorite parts were; I’m glad I kept myself mostly unspoiled in terms of the adaptation choices, and don’t want to take the fun away from anyone who might read this before seeing it.

Which I encourage everyone to do.

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rosiealumbaugh: Into the Woods (2014) I was born to watch…

Saturday, October 25th, 2014


Into the Woods (2014)

I was born to watch this movie

Oooh! There’s a longer trailer!

Someone’s next few minutes just got booked solid. :-)

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So, my family and I saw Into the Woods at the Old Globe last night. (And met despairoftranslators…

Monday, August 4th, 2014

So, my family and I saw Into the Woods at the Old Globe last night. (And met despairoftranslators before, yay!) I was just a little worried going in; it’s one of my favorite musicals, and pretty much every review made a point of mentioning that Fiasco Theater’s re-imagined production was sometimes lacking in singing talent.

It so didn’t matter.

It’s like this. When I see a beautiful landscape by Monet, I don’t stop to catalog all the ways it falls short of being a beautiful landscape by Van Gogh. Each is its own thing; each takes my breath away.

This production took my breath away.

Sondheim’s music was all there. There were beautiful sung passages, and yeah, some of the actors were noticeably better singers than others, but it was never even slightly a problem. And there was so much imagination in the staging, such vibrant and engaging acting, that I was carried along on the story.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone who might have a chance to see it (and I appreciate that the reviewers I read kept me unspoiled for some of the best pieces of staging). But there were parts that worked SO WELL. I mean, the audience had to do some work from their end, but that’s true in every production I’ve ever seen; you don’t put a forest and a tower and a singing wolf and conversing birds and a beloved cow and a giant (!) on a theater stage without some willing suspension of disbelief. But in re-imagining those elements, Fiasco elevated the experience in a way that didn’t just equal the big, professional productions I’ve seen. It exceeded them. I mean, literally. Literally literally. I’m still boggling about that.

But those creative choices were just means to an end, and it was the overall result that has stayed with me. It was a beautiful, unique realization of Sondheim’s and Lapine’s musical, and anyone who loves that sort of thing owes it to themselves to see it.

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Posted in honor of Sean “No Frame Can Hold Me” Persaud,…

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Posted in honor of Sean “No Frame Can Hold Me” Persaud, because when I read his comment this is the first thing I thought of.

And then I thought, hey: Sean as Prince Charming in a musical parody. He’s tall, right? Why should Sinead have all the fun?

Fun fact I just learned: After meeting during the original Broadway production, Kim Crosby (Cinderella) and Robert Westenberg (Prince Charming/The Wolf) fell in love and married in real life. They live today in Springfield, Missouri with their children Emily, Katherine, and Joe.

Ever after.

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