Stephen Sondheim releases statement after backlash over 'Into the Woods' comments

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Image Credit: Peter Mountain

So it’s all reportersfault.

Stephen Sondheim has released a statement after a loud Internet backlash earlier this week. Earlier, Sondheim spoke about changes in the upcoming Disney film version of Sondheim’s classic musical Into the Woods. The Musical Theater corner of the Internet was up in arms after reporters quoted Sondheim as saying Disney had cut the number “Any Moment,” toned down the sexual innuendo with The Wolf (Johnny Depp), and explained Repunzel wouldn’t die, among other changes that seemed to suggest that the all-star movie version would be taking out anything that wasn’t family-friendly and thereby ruining what made the original Broadway version so great.

Now, Sondheim has released a statement via Playbill saying he was misquoted and that fans of the musical shouldn’t be concerned about Disney coming in and taking a wrecking ball to the adult tale.

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.”

This statement is encouraging in providing some assurance that, at the very least, “Any Moment” and the affair between the Prince and the Baker’s Wife will at least be alluded to. (But Sondheim remained mum on the other changes.) Regardless of what Sondheim said, fans’ fears likely won’t be assuaged until the film hits theaters Dec. 25 and hopefully shows that the darker elements that made the musical such a hit remain at least somewhat intact.

Remember: Nice is different than good. (Man, all the lyrics of this show work so well when writing up controversies.)

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