In a recent story in The New Yorker, Stephen Sondheimhad a lot to say about Disney‘s take on his musical "Into The Woods." While he seemed pragmatic about the whole thing, citing the realities of Disney having to deliver something for families and a mainstream audience, Sondheim has come out today a lot more supportive about the project.
While he was directly quoted about the changes which included Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) not getting killed, and the prince (Chris Pine) and baker’s wife (Emily Blunt) not sleeping together, it would appear Sondheim was perhaps putting the cart ahead of the horse. In a statement issued to Playbill, he clarifies that at the time of the quotes, he had not even seen a rough cut of the movie, and moreover asserts he was very involved in the transition to the big screen. In fact, he’s now positively happy about the movie overall. Here’s what he had to say:
An article in The New Yorker misreporting my "Master Class" conversation about censorship in our schools with seventeen teachers from the Academy for Teachers a couple of weeks ago has created some false impressions about my collaboration with the Disney Studio on the film version of Into the Woods. The fact is that James (Lapine, who wrote both the show and the movie) and I worked out every change from stage to screen with the producers and with Rob Marshall, the director. Despite what the New Yorker article may convey, the collaboration was genuinely collaborative and always productive.
When the conversation with the teachers occurred, I had not yet seen a full rough cut of the movie. Coincidentally, I saw it immediately after leaving the meeting and, having now seen it a couple of times, I can happily report that it is not only a faithful adaptation of the show, it is a first-rate movie.
And for those who care, as the teachers did, the Prince’s dalliance is still in the movie, and so is "Any Moment."
So, was there some PR pivoting or was Sondheim perhaps getting a bit too excitable before actually knowing what the final cut would look like? Anyway, there’s plenty of time to tinker as "Into The Woods" isn’t due until Christmas Day.