Thursday, September 19, 2013

MOVIES: Into the Woods Update

I did not include this in my general movie overview earlier this month because I felt it deserved its own post.

First, there was a huge uproar when we found out that Disney had cast Sophia Grace Brownlee as Little Red Riding Hood, opposite Johnny Depp's wolf. (see Io9's post as well)

Sophia Grace: Little Red Riding Hood in 'Into the Woods'!

1) People were concerned that it was stunt casting, because Sophia Grace is not an actress, but a child celebrity singer. 2) Sophia Grace is 10. I, like many of my colleagues on the internet, had interpreted the "Hello Little Girl" scene between the Wolf and Little Red, and her subsequent song "I Know Things Now," to be about sexual experience. "Hello Little Girl" uses culinary and sexual imagery in the same breath: "Think of that scrumptious carnality twice in one day." "I Know Things Now" describes how she got "excited and scared" when he "drew me close and he swallowed me down down a dark slimy path where lie secrets that I never want to know." It did not help that the wolf costume in the original Broadway production had a phallus, and that Robert Westenburg was highly suggestive:

On the other hand, in his interview for BroadwayWorld in 2011, Sondheim states that the theme of the play is about parents and children. As one of the two active children in the play, having Little Red as an actual child would enhance that theme. Depending on the interpretation, I could see this song played purely as a "beware of strangers" cautionary tale. I hoped that is the direction they were heading when they cast a 10 year old. 


Disney recently swapped Little Reds, replacing 10 year old Sophia Grace with 12 year old Lilla Crawford, a stage actor with several Broadway shows under her belt. 

This certainly addresses the first concern: stunt casting. Yet, however mature Lilla may be, 2 years (though an important 2 years) is not a huge difference. We can safely assume that Disney will not emphasize the sexual nature of the scene, but judging from the change, they are apparently taking the public's concerns into consideration. 

Anyway, you can now see the completed cast list here, which includes most of the people we have seen before, but with one exciting addition: Annette Crosby (the sassy fairy godmother in Slipper and the Rose) will play Little Red's Granny. I am also ecstatic about Lucy Punch playing an evil stepsister, as she seems to have made a living in fairy tale films playing exactly that (and Sally Shepherdess from 10th Kingdom). It also includes character descriptions so you can get a glimpse of what they deem to be the essence of the character.


  1. I read somewhere that the change was initiated from Sophia Grace's parents/agents side, in that as rehearsals progressed they became increasingly concerned about the nature of the scenes, feeling Sophia Grace was too young (yay parents!). I don't have the link handy but I think they released a statement of explanation - which says to me there is "some" sexual nature of exchange still involved but it still doesn't indicate how much or its form (and while 12 is older in many ways - a lot in some ways - it's still damn young overall). I maintain my cynical stance of likelihood of stunt casting and/or marketing ploy, (Call me jaded.)

    PS Ditto on the yay for Lucy Punch!

    1. Ah, interesting! And heartening, depending on how you look at the situation. Ick for the child casting, but yay for the keeping true to the play.