On August 7th, 2013, it was officially announced that Sophia Grace Brownlee, YouTube sensation made even more famous on the ELLEN show, was cast as Little Red Riding Hood in the Rob Marshall directed film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods… and the theatrical community had a collective social media MELTDOWN.
I haven’t seen a casting decision for a movie musical stir up this much controversy since Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, and Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd, John Travolta, Zac Efron, and Amanda Bynes in Hairspray, or when Uma Thurman was digitally superimposed into the Lincoln Center Library filming of The Producers that was theatrically released as a “film adaptation” in 2005.
Perhaps we should all collectively take a deep breath and come to terms with the reality that we wouldn’t even accept this Into the Woods if Stephen Sondheim himself visited each and every one of us at our homes and personally explained why this is the definitive version James Lapine and himself always intended but never dreamed was possible. Sondheim could even compose a personal song for all of us with the sheet music transcribed in his own blood and we’d be like, “Why did you change the lyrics in ‘Last Midnight’ for the 2002 revival? That’s not the way it should be…”
This film doesn’t have a Wildhorn’s chance at a Tony Award for Best Score of being accepted by any of us. Why? Because it will never be the version of Into the Woods that made us fall in love with the show, or theatre, or Sondheim, or carefully crafted sexual innuendo or whatever it is this musical means to you. That version of Into the Woods is a personal moment in time that cannot be replicated and will only exist in our own memory.
An Into the Woods film has been in and out of production since the days Sophia Grace Brownlee’s parents were age appropriate to play Jack and Little Red. Think of the new generation of Into the Woods purists who will fall in love with the musical for the first time because of this film and then proceed to bitch when the 2016 revival doesn’t use all the new songs? We should be #blessed this is happening at all.
On another note, I heard they cut, “No More.” Jesus, this movie is going to suck…