Johnny's movies

“A good fairy tale speaks to us at each stage of our lives” Lapine says

Posted in Uncategorized by Anna Maria Polidori on December 20, 2014

“I forgot that I wrote it and I started to hear what Into the Woods has to say”



James Lapine in a moving reconstruction of the creation of Into the Woods Movie



I wrote many articles involving Into the Woods and I have always developed a great curiosity regarding James Lapine  the second creator with Sondheim stephen sondheim photo_Jerry Jackson of this stunning Broadway’s musical.
With great joy I found on the Los Angeles Times an article written by the same Lapine about the making and creation of Into the Woods and some of his story. It’s simply fantastic and moving.

The key word of Lapine for the creation of the movie version of Into the Woods has been: revise and revise because the Broadway’ s musical needed to be adapted for the big screen.

Lapine remembers in the piece he wrote that it was exactly december 2010 when Rob Marshall robmarshall called him asking if he wanted to see released a movie version of Into the Woods. Lapine the librettist of this Broadway’s masterpiece was very happy and answered back very positively asking if there was the possibility of adapting for Disney the Broadway’s musical. Of course no one could do that better than the same creators. Marshall said yes. To Lapine this news was stunningly surprising. But maybe not unexpected.


Los Angeles Times Pic

So the first thing Lapine remembers once he concluded his talks by phone with Marshall has been the moment of the creation of the musical Into the Woods. He was so young. A young man, his wife was waiting their first child. When born Lapine told he had dedicated this libretto to his baby daughter. Other sensations of course, other moments of an existence spent very creatively.


At the same time Stephen Sondheim talks with Lapine. They need to prepare a first draft to propose to Rob Marshall for being discussed later with him.
What is exactly Into the Woods is described very well by Lapine: a patchwork of classic fairy tales re-read under an original lens.
Marshall needed that first draft. A reduction appears clear. First of all writes Lapine in the Los Angeles Times, they decided to cut out from the scenes and scenery the character of the Narrator. So in what way sorting out the storytelling gaps asks to himself Lapine?
Marshall rob marshall is a movie director but with a great visceral passion for musicals so he is one of their best collaborators for process of the creation of Into the Woods.

The writing pours forth.” writes Lapine.
The script at first appears too long confess Lapine. The first 20 minutes of the second act of the Broadway’s comedy cut out from the movie. Two characters elimineted from the movie version. Marshall specifies to Lapine: “Not every song has to be illustrated“. So the decision of new changes.
It’s january 2012 when the first draft is ready. Lapine tells he is “nervous”. Stephen Sondheim and Lapine have always worked together. Now Lapine has spent a lot of time closed in a room with Marshall for trying to see how to adapt this Broadway’s musical in a stunning movie musical.


Sondheim, writes Lapine knows that some of his songs are eliminated. At the same time of course Sondheim and Lapine waits for the reaction of Marshall. It’s very good. He asks them anyway to rewrite some lyrics.

The budget is not so big like Marshall hoped it had to be at first. It is asked to Lapine to spell things out. “I hate to spell things out. (That’s a playwright thing.)” he confess. More script cuts.
Into the Woods movie version is borning.
March 2013 and another version is  created. Lapine understands “The art of adaptation, the balancing act of honoring the source material without being a slave to it“.

On august 2013 the last go-round on script via conference call. Producer Marc Platt discuss with Sondheim and Lapine the final details. Lapine thinks that this moment has been incredibly emotional.

Why? It’s simple: the creation is born. As Lapine says: “We’re letting our baby go out into the world all over again. And, like for any pair of parents, it hurts to let go. We should write a show about this. Oh wait, we just did and now they are making a movie of it“.

This version of Into the Woods in fact is something else respect to the musical but at the same time IT’S Into the Woods.
An emotion has been for Lapine to watching the first cut. He describes it as: “An out-of-body-experience”. His wife and daughter, 28 years now and the beloved daughter he had dedicated Into the Woods’ musical close to him, “Laughing, crying“. Lapine: “I lived an out-of-body experience. My head was swirling“.
Wow, the end do this article and the words written by Lapine are very moving and I am crying reading them because very profound. He writes: “When I was embarking on “Woods” I was chatting with a friend as her young daughter was having dinner. Actually, more like playing with her dinner, most of which was going everywhere but in her mouth. I casually asked my pal if teaching her kid table manners was going to be important for her. She looked at me: “James, I just hope I can teach this kid the difference between right and wrong.” That resonated with me when I wrote our show and comes back to me now. How well have I taught my child and what world have I — have all of us — left behind for our children? When Rob Marshall approached us about making the film, he said he felt it was time to retell this story. Of course he was right. A good fairy tale speaks to us at each stage of our lives. I watched the movie again. I began to forget that I wrote it and started to hear even more clearly at this stage of my life what “Into the Woods” has to say”.


Anna Maria Polidori






Anna Maria Polidori


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