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UPDATE:

The kid does NOT stay in the picture. Lilla Crawford (Annie from the latest Broadway revival) will be Little Red. She isn’t Sophie Grace Brownlee, but then she isn’t what most Theatre Geeks imagined, either.  So read on! It’s still relevant. 

http://www.playbill.com/news/article/182167-Annies-Lilla-Crawford-Will-Be-Little-Red-in-Into-the-Woods-Film-Featuring-New-Song-by-Stephen-Sondheim

This is about Movie Musicals and the Theatre Geeks who Love to Hate Them.

My news feed lit up this weekend after the announcement that Sophia Grace Brownlee landed the role of Little Red Riding Hood in Disney’s upcoming film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical Into The Woods.

THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE!

THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE!

Many worry that Miss Brownlee might not be up to the task of singing the Little Red songs from Sondheim’s score which has been known to give grown women with extensive vocal training reoccurring nightmares. I say “How bad could it possibly be?” (for the answer to that question, check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRxE6WPdfg0 and decide for yourself.)

Still others are concerned about the big picture. How will Disney pasteurize and homogenize this piece? Many fans of the show seem generally concerned that the dark mood and heavy themes of desire, deceit, hypocrisy and the consequences of one’s actions will be lost, not to mention the themes of seduction and sexual awakening which only work with older teens or young adults in the roles of Jack and Little Red, but then what did we expect? This is going to be a Disney film regardless of who is cast, so of course the naughty bits will be stripped. It isn’t going to look like this:

Oh Wolfie

Although the Wolf looks just like Johnny Depp.

They previewed the logo over the weekend, too. BORING. I’ve seen High School Drama Departments make better artwork. This looks like something I could create using  www.1001freefonts.com. Is the bland logo a harbinger of a bland movie?

Theatre folks are scared. They should be. Look at what Hollywood did to Les Miserables! Everyone had an opinion on Les Miserables. I know because everyone (including myself) made their opinions known a dozen times.

So much can go wrong with a movie musical in modern Hollywood! For instance, there’s this hat:

Does anyone still wear a hat? I’ll drink to that.

But modern Hollywood isn’t the problem. Hollywood has been screwing up musicals since the days of the Talkies. Long before Crowe and Jackman there was Brando and Sinatra. Could Hollywood have screwed that up more?

guys and dolls

Luck may be a Lady, but some men are whores.

But hey, at least Brando and Sinatra got to do their own singing. There was a time when Hollywood wanted to make sure female vocals were consistent, so the same singer voiced several important characters so the singing voices of the stars didn’t have to be heard. They actually tricked Audrey Hepburn by recording her own vocal, filming her song performances to her vocal tracks and then replacing her vocal with Marnie Nixon’s in post production. Nixon tried to match Hepburn, but it was an impossible task. Eliza Doolittle’s lips were slightly out of sync through most of the musical numbers in the film.

Marnie Nixon copy

Then there was the time they completely reworked the main characters and their backgrounds to fit the ethnicity of the star cast in the lead role.

Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles in Cabaret

Film makers sucked quite a bit of the vaudevillian and burlesque humor out of the film adaptation of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum in spite of their efforts to stick with the two actors who originated the lead roles on Broadway. They downplayed the themes of domestic abuse in the film adaptation of Carousel, which drastically diminished the play’s meaning. The Wiz was twice as long as it should have been; did filmmakers really expect kids to sit still for two hours and fifteen minutes? And they cast a 34 YEAR OLD to play Dorothy (I love Diana Ross, but come on). And who thought it would be a great idea to put Burt Reynolds in The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas just because he was the biggest star in Hollywood at the time?

These movies are flawed. Some would even say these movies are disasters. A few of these truly are disasters, but all of them are treasures.

Theatre Geeks watch them again and again. We stop what we’re doing to watch them when they’re on TCM even though we have them on DVD. We think of Natalie Wood as Maria before we think of her as any other character she portrayed (except maybe Louise). The same is true with Audrey Hepburn. We think Marlon Brando mumbling “Luck Be A Lady” while pretending to dance in a Technicolor sewer is the epitome of cool (which might explain why so many of us are dorks).

The green-lighting of a stage-to-screen movie musical fills us with equal parts ecstasy and dread. We bitch about the casting choices, but deep down inside we hope everyone will be amazing. We see it while it’s in theatres (which is a luxury considering the finances of most theatre folk). We might even see it more than once just to be sure we didn’t like it, hoping we’ll change our mind after further viewings. And no matter how bad we hate the movie we kick ourselves for not yet being established enough to land a role in it.

So let’s stop worrying about Disney’s Into The Woods and let’s start lobbying for a film version of Urinetown with Jane Lynch as Pennywise. There might be talk about Will Ferrell as Lockstock. Relax; he’ll be wonderful.

And while we’re at it, let’s stop bitching about Into The Woods and use our passion to stop a greater evil– STAGE MUSICALS BASED ON BLOCKBUSTER FILMS!

Page to Stage, Stage to Screen;  THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS.  Page to Screen, Screen to Stage;  FILLS GOD WITH RAGE!

“Let’s protest Broadway’s funeral!”

What’s next? Click here to find out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DyPn_3bNzg

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