Posts Tagged ‘Into the Woods’

Richard’s “Canada AM” reviews for December 24 with Graham Richardson.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 9.43.31 AMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “Into the Woods,” “Big Eyes,” “Inherent Vice,” “The Gambler” and “Unbroken.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

INTO THE WOODS: 3 ½ STARS. “Be careful what you wish for… you just might get it!”

INTO THE WOODSHave you ever heard the saying, “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it”? It’s a fitting maxim for the new Disneyfied version of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Into the Woods.” Of course, it is one of the themes of the show, but on another level, for the people who have long hoped to see a screen adaptation of the legendary musical, it may not be a situation of wish fulfillment.

Fans of the stage show will notice a few liberties have been taken with the show’s book. The changes are slight—for instance, the prince does not sleep with the Baker’s Wife, although they do have an encounter—but purists may feel like their beanstalk has been shaken a bit too much.

Casual fans of big screen musical theatre, however, will find a handsomely mounted reworking of the popular show, filled with the stuff of fairy tales: beautiful princesses, handsome but dimwitted princes, witches and even a giant or two.

The story is broken into two halves, a sunnier and irreverent “Once Upon a Time” first half that introduces the Baker (James Corden) and his Wife (Emily Blunt), a couple unable to have children because of a Witch’s (Meryl Streep) curse. The old crone agrees to undo the spell if the pair supply her with four items, a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood; hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold.

Their search takes them into the woods and in collision (and later in collusion) with Jack (Daniel Huttlestone), later of Beanstalk fame, Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) after the Big Bad Wolf (Johnny Depp) has swallowed her whole, Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) and Cinderella (Anna Kendrick).

The second half, the darker side of the fairy tale world, begins where the happily ever after part usually sits. When a female giant comes to the woods looking for Jack, the boy who killed her husband, the story takes a turn, teaching a lesson about wish fulfillment and responsibility for our actions.

“Into the Woods” has more to do with the original Grimm Brother Fairy Tales—the ones where evil stepmothers sawed the toes off their daughters to fit into golden slippers—than anything Disney has ever attempted before. The stereotypes are all present and accounted for, but under the prince’s brocade jackets or the Witch’s wild mauve wig, are complex characters that veer from comedic to serious to poignant, often in the same scene.

The cast is comprised of actors who can sing, warbling to Sondheim’s rich score. Standouts include “Agony,” an amusing duet between the two princes (Billy Magnussen and Chris Pine) and the Witch’s swansong “Last Midnight.”

On the downside, it feels a bit overlong and the Big Bad Wolf scene could have been renamed the Huge Unctuous Wolf, given Depp’s oily interpretation of the character.

“Into the Woods” survives the script meddling through strong staging, good performances and sheer wish fulfillment to make end up at it’s own kind of happily ever after.

Metro Canada: Meryl’s Men in Tights, 30 Feet of Hair and “Into the Woods.”

ITW_Rapunzel_OtherPrinceBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

I learned a great deal during my interview with Mackenzie Mauzy and Billy Magnussen. The Manhattan based performers brought me up to speed on the rite of passage for all New York actors, Rapunzel’s hair and whether or not Meryl Streep likes men in blue tights.

The pair play Rapunzel and Rapunzel’s Prince in the big screen adaptation of the legendary Broadway musical Into the Woods. The two relative new comers—she’s best known as Abigail on Forever while he made a memorable appearance on Boardwalk Empire and will soon be seen in an upcoming Steven Spielberg spy thriller—help bring fairy tales to life as part of a large ensemble that includes Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep.

Which leads me to the first thing I learned during our chat.

“Meryl’s a beast,” says Magnussen. “She’s the one who got me the job. I was in a play and she saw it and recommended to me [director] Rob [Marshall] and [producer] Mark Platt. The play was Vonya and Sonia and Marsha and Spike and I dress up as a prince because we’re going to a costume party. It’s all about the blue tights.”

“Meryl likes the blue tights,” laughs Mauzy.

Next I discovered the wig Mauzy wears in the film put her at a follicular risk.

“They used my hair and braided it into the extensions,” she says. “It was thirty feet long so I wrapped it around my arm. I had a little fake one for rehearsal but I asked to actually wear [the real one] one day so I could figure out how to be mobile. It’s a tripping hazard! We joke about how I had a really strong left bicep for a couple months.”

Then Magnussen enlightened me on a rite of passage for New York actors, “Once you get on Law and Order,” he says, “you’re really an actor.” Both have done time in the L&O trenches. Mauzy played a child killer named Carly Di Gravia—“It’s weird I remember that name,” she says.—while Magnussen says, “It was one of my first jobs. They bleached my hair white and I was a Southern male prostitute. How do you tell your mom? Hey watch this!”

Finally, one I gleaned one last pearl of knowledge from Mauzy. Apparently it’s OK to call Stephen Sondheim, legendary Into the Woods composer and eight time Tony Award winner, Steve. “Everyone calls him Steve!” she laughs. “He likes to be called Steve! It is weird. Steve Sondheim.”

“Canada AM”: Richard and host on the Golden Globes nominations 2015

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 10.30.25 AM“Canada AM”: Richard and host on the Golden Globes nominations 2015

Watch the whole thing HERE!





Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 10.28.55 AM


Best Drama

  • “Boyhood”
  • “Foxcatcher”
  • “The Imitation Game”
  • “Selma”
  • “The Theory of Everything”

Best Comedy

  • “Birdman”
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • “Into the Woods”
  • “Pride”
  • “St. Vincent”

Best Director

  • Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • Ava Duvernay, “Selma”
  • David Fincher, “Gone Girl”
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”
  • Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

Best Actress in a Drama

  • Jennifer Aniston, “Cake”
  • Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
  • Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
  • Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
  • Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

Best Actor in a Drama

  • Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”
  • David Oyelowo, “Selma”
  • Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy

  • Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
  • Bill Murray, “St. Vincent”
  • Joaquin Phoenix, “Inherent Vice”
  • Christoph Waltz, “Big Eyes”

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy

  • Amy Adams, “Big Eyes”
  • Emily Blunt, “Into the Woods”
  • Helen Mirren, “The Hundred-Foot Journey”
  • Julianne Moore, “Map to the Stars”
  • Quvenzhané Wallis, “Annie”

Best Supporting Actress

  • Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
  • Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year”
  • Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
  • Emma Stone, “Birdman”
  • Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

Best Supporting Actor

  • Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
  • Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
  • Edward Norton, “Birdman”
  • Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
  • J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Screenplay

  • Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo, “Birdman”
  • Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
  • Graham Moore, “The Imitation Game”

Best Foreign Language Film

  • “Force Majeure Turist,” Sweden
  • “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem Gett,” Israel
  • “Ida,” Poland/Denmark
  • “Leviathan,” Russia
  • “Tangerines Mandariinid,” Estonia

Best Animated Feature

  • “Big Hero 6”
  • “The Book of Life”
  • “The Boxtrolls”
  • “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
  • “The Lego Movie”

Best Original Song

  • “Big Eyes” from “Big Eyes” music and lyrics by Lana Del Rey
  • “Glory” from “Selma,” Music and lyrics by John legend and Common
  • “Mercy Is” from “Noah,” Music and lyrics by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye
  • “Opportunity” from “Annie,” Music and lyrics by Greg Kurstin, Sia Furler, Will Gluck
  • “Yellow Flicker Beat” from “The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1,” Music and lyrics by Lorde

Best Score

  • “The Imitation Game”
  • “The Theory of Everything”
  • “Gone Girl”
  • “Birdman”
  • “Interstellar”

Kendrick flaunts her vocal chops in the new flick “The Last Five Years.”

70224_originalBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

Anna Kendrick is perhaps best known for her break out role as the ambitious Human Resources person in Up in the Air who suggests conducting layoffs via videoconferencing to save money. Her performance opposite George Clooney created a stir at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, and now she’s back at TIFF with a much different movie.

The Last Five Years is a musical based on Jason Robert Brown’s Off-Broadway hit of same name. It’s the story of the five-year relationship between actress Cathy and her novelist husband Jamie, played by Smash star Jeremy Jordan. It’s told from two different perspectives. Her storyline begins with the breakdown of the relationship. His starts at the beginning (it’s a very good place to start, as they say in musical theatre) as they court and eventually marry.

Kendrick, last sang on screen in Pitch Perfect and will soon be seen as Cinderella in the much anticipated movie version of Into the Woods, says the decision to sing live in front of the cameras, instead of prerecording in studio, aided her performance of the complex role.

“Doing it live was something we wanted to do whenever possible,” she says. “We didn’t want to make a point of it or be precious about it because it was equally important for us to be visually dynamic and change locations and be outside occasionally. I thought I would feel that the pre-recorded days would be a breeze, but it was so much easier to act the songs live because you weren’t retroactively going, ‘Oh yeah, that’s how I was playing that in the recording booth four weeks ago.’ So doing it live was a physical challenge, because, you know, it’s your voice, but it was so much easier to be present and honest and all that with singing live.”

Kendrick plays a struggling actress and in one memorable scene details the pain of auditioning for roles. In the Climbing Uphill sequence she sings, “I’m up ev’ry morning at six, And standing in line, With two hundred girls who are younger and thinner than me.” It;’s a feeling Kendrick says she knows well.

“It’s a competitive business by nature,” she says. “I know that room and that line of two hundred girls. I didn’t have to dig all that deep to know the anxiety and self-doubt. That was a fun thing to perform and see inside her head and talk about the indignity of not being paid attention to when you are trying to perform for somebody.”

Even though she is a Tony nominee for her work on Broadway in High Society and has starred in high profile films like Twilight and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World she says she still auditions.

“If there is something really incredible everybody wants it so I audition,” she says. I see friends of mine and we’re all in business suits and then at the next one we’re all in leather jackets. I’m like, ‘Yeah, this is so embarrassing.’ But that is the grind.”