How do you turn a dark, innuendo-laden Broadway musical about cynical fairy-tale figures into a family-friendly Disney flick? Enlist director Rob Marshall (Chicago) and the show’s creators, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, to adapt the 1987 work about the interwoven adventures of Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood, among others, for the screen.
Despite rumors that the film might present a watered-down, Disneyfied version of the musical, Marshall promises, ”We’ve been incredibly faithful to the original.” The movie will introduce flashbacks for certain characters, but the filmmakers won’t be adding an Oscar-eligible original song. (Sondheim did pen a new number for Meryl Streep’s iniquitous Witch that didn’t make the film’s final cut.) But when it comes to fan-favorite moments, Marshall says ”it’s all there” — including the pervy come-ons of the big bad Wolf (Johnny Depp) and a steamy tryst between the Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt) and Cinderella’s Prince (Chris Pine).
Both Blunt and Pine surprised Marshall with their singing chops, but the director expects audiences will really buzz about Streep’s vocal performance. ”I don’t think people will be remotely ready to hear her sing this material,” he says. ”The power from her is off the charts.” Enough power, hopefully, to make Mamma Mia! feel like a distant wish.