For months, musical theater dorks have been eagerly awaiting the release of Disney's Into the Woods soundtrack. Thanks to rumors about cut songs and lyric changes, along with some highly questionable casting choices (hello, little Depp), the outlook hasn't been good. Now, the full album has arrived and there's no longer need to speculate. Let's have a listen and talk out our feelings—because that's what we theater kids are good at.
First, the major disappointment: The narrator, a key part of the original musical, has been cut from the film and his lines have been transferred over to the Baker (played by James Cordon). Considering the dual roles that the narrator plays, this does not necessarily bode well for the movie.
But onto the good news! Contrary to Stephen Sondheim's rumor mongering, "Any Moment"—a song we'll refer to as morally complicated—has not been cut from the show. It's right there on the soundtrack, sung by Chris Pine and Emily Blunt. I'm exceptionally happy to hear this because "Any Moment" leads directly to my favorite song, "Moments in the Woods." While Blunt is no Joanna Gleason, she sounds pretty darn good.
As for the lyric changes, they're unfortunately there, but not nearly as egregious as they were once made out to be. "On The Steps of the Palace," for example has been simplified, but, when you consider the original (THANKFULLY untrue) rumor that the lyrics of Little Red Riding Hood's "I Know Things Now" would be changed from "nice is different than good" to "nice is better than good," the current edits don't seem so offensive.
"Giants in the Sky," "Agony" and "Stay with Me" stand out as highlights on the soundtrack—"Giants in the Sky" for its swelling score, "Agony" for its humor and "Stay with Me" for the emotion that Streep brings to the table. She might not be the strongest singer (especially when we're all comparing her to Bernadette Peters), but she does act the hell out of it.
As for regular listening, I'll be sticking to the original Broadway cast recording, but the Disney version is not nearly as terrible as I feared it would be. Considering my love and protectiveness of Sondheim, that's the best review you all can expect to get from me.
Image via Disney