Musical News – ‘Jersey Boys’ Gets a Writer, Rob Marshall to Direct ‘Into the Woods’

Bernadette Peters in the Original Broadway Cast of "Into the Woods"

I am of the stalwart opinion that the world can never get enough Stephen Sondheim, which is why I am excited with little reservation that his often performed musical Into the Woods is being adapted for the big screen. According to The Hollywood Reporter, director Rob Marshall has signed a deal with Disney to adapt Sondheim’s twisted musical of famous fairy tales into a film with cast and crew to be announced.

There is plenty of reason to be skeptical about this project. As a director, Marshall was only mildly successful with his Oscar-winning film adaptation of the musical Chicago and his most recent projects Nine and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides were near disasters. Also, the film is being produced by Disney which indicates it will likely be targeted at families and the dark tone of the musical will probably be awkwardly brightened. However, I am of the belief that as long as more people are exposed to the work of the greatest songwriter of all-time, it is for the better.

Into the Woods might be Sondheim’s most familiar musical because high schools around the country have been wildly misinterpreting it for years. It intertwines several Brothers Grimm fairy tales including Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, and Rapunzel. It examines characters’ immature decisions that are depicted in the familiar versions of the stories and goes further to explain the consequences. For instance, Jack is never satisfied with his world after returning from the kingdom in the sky, Cinderella finds the immobile life of royalty a bore, and the Prince Charming archetypes cannot satiate their lust even after settling down with a Princess. The musical has brilliant dark wit and features more death than will likely appear in Rob Marshall’s Disney production.

More news about casting and release plans are sure to come soon, but for now enjoy the song “Agony” as performed by Daniel Evans and Julian Ovenden for the Sondheim at 80 concert.


In other musical news, the stalled film adaptation of Jersey Boys is moving forward again now that it has a screenwriter. Entertainment Weekly reports that the tireless John Logan will be providing the screenplay for the Tony Award winning musical. Logan penned two films in 2011 – Rango and Hugo – and he already has two films headed this way in 2012 – Skyfall and Lincoln. He previously adapted Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd into the 2007 film that was directed by Tim Burton, so he does have experience with musicals.

Jersey Boys is a decent show that I hold an unfair grudge against because it won the Tony Award over the brilliant and original musical The Drowsy Chaperone. It is a jukebox musical that tells the story of the unlikely rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, using music from the recognizable 60s and 70s pop group. There have been no casting announcements made yet, but expect some Oscar attention to be paid to the baity leading roles in this musical that is based on a true story.

Stay tuned for more updates as casting announcements are made and release dates are eventually set. I am of the opinion that the more movie musicals that Hollywood releases, the better we all are because eventually there has to be a great one. I’m still holding my breath for a film adaptation of Sunday in the Park with George.

What do you think of the Into the Woods and Jersey Boys movie announcements?

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  • John Logan also penned ‘Coriolanus’ in 2011.

    I really hope they don’t mess up ‘Into the Woods,’ I love how cynical that show is.

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