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So as it turns out, Worlds of Arthur was about as exciting as reading a poorly annotated bibliography, so I ditched it after 80 pages and I’m working on Lisa Hilton’s Queens Consort right now. More on that another time, when I’ve read more than one chapter.

In other news, there’s been some discontent expressed online with the release of images of Johnny Depp in character as the Wolf in the upcoming film version of “Into the Woods.”

It’s not how I’d have designed the character, but I didn’t exactly expect them to recreate the Anatomically Explicit Wolf costume from the stage play. And yes, it’s meant to be skeevy that he’s hitting on a teenage girl. That’s the whole point of the scene, not to mention the Red Riding Hood story. In its existence from the Grimm brothers onward it’s not exactly subtle as a morality story about female virtue.

But in general, my reaction to the hullabaloo about the design of the Wolf for the film is “Really? THAT’s what you have a problem with?”

The makers of the film are reportedly being so squeamish about the darker aspects of the story that they’re taking all the bite out of it. The whole point of the story is what happens AFTER happily ever after, and the consequences of events put in motion – no story actually ends with happily ever after.

I’ve heard through the grapevine that they’ve decided to delete the “Moments in the Woods” scene between the Baker’s Wife and Cinderella’s Prince, and that the whole thing with Rapunzel being stepped on by a nearsighted giantess has also been omitted. The latter is mostly twisted humor, but it plays into why the Witch snaps – for all her questionable parenting decisions, she adores Rapunzel.

The omission of the “Moments in the Woods” is more upsetting. It’s not an easy scene, and over fifteen years after I first saw the play, I’m still working on understanding it and its consequences. I mean, I know what happens onstage and offstage within the story there, but I’m working on understanding it more deeply. And it sets up the Baker’s Wife’s end, as well as the climax of the whole storyline. It’s the Baker’s Wife we’ve followed and empathized most with throughout the story, after all. Sondheim and Lapine direct our attention to her, and it’s her determination and mind that drive the quest which weaves all the tangential stories together.

Going off the articles I’ve seen on the subject, here are the major changes from stage to screen.

1. The relationship between the Wolf and Red Riding Hood is completely nonsexual (by which I think they mean the Wolf’s costume does not involve visible genitalia, because in the stage version it’s all suggested rather than acted upon. It’s SUPPOSED to be seduction!).

2. Rapunzel doesn’t die.

3. The Baker’s Wife does not have a “moment in the woods” with Cinderella’s Prince.

Since those have been announced, further statements say it’s a faithful adaptation, the affair is back in, “Any Moment” is still in, Rapunzel’s end is “different” but still “dark,” and the act 2 opener, “Ever After” is now instrumental (stupid choice, it sets things up, but whatever).

So the moral of the story is, I’m confused and feel yanked around by entertainment reporters. And I’m still a little disappointed that they aren’t double-casting Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf or the Narrator and the Mysterious Man (Narrator’s been completely cut, it seems). It’s Symbolism! Stop wrecking the Symbolism, producers!

Also, Meryl Streep is all kinds of awesome, but nobody can beat Bernadette Peters as the Witch.

 

Original Broadway Cast – Bernadette Peters as the Witch, Tom Aldredge as the Mysterious Man, Robert Westenberg as the Wolf, Joanna Gleason as the Baker’s Wife, and Chip Zien as the Baker.