next_to_normal: Broadway cast of Into the Woods (Into the Woods)
[personal profile] next_to_normal
This will probably be of interest to no one but me, but whatever. I'm having fun. Anyway, there's a movie version of my favorite musical ever, Into the Woods, being made, and it's now confirmed that Meryl Streep will play the Witch. Earlier, there was a screenplay reading with lots of big names, some of whom may end up in the movie, but Meryl wasn't involved so obviously none of them are sure things.

Because I am me, I decided to do my own cast, since I know this musical better than anyone else ever, with the possible exception of Stephen Sondheim. (Literally, I cannot remember a time when I had not seen Into the Woods, because I started watching it at such an early age. Which was probably bad parenting on my mother's part, but most of the sex jokes went over my head.) I was going to make a picspam, like my genderswaps, but caps of the original Broadway production are nigh-impossible to find and what's out there is pretty poor quality (granted, the thing was filmed in, like, 1987, so what do you expect?).

To give myself a bit more of a challenge, I made an arbitrary requirement that, for the movie, everyone must have some prior film or television experience, otherwise I could just cast the whole thing with Broadway stars and be done with it. I also tried to inject a little diversity since, much as I love the Broadway cast, that is a very white show. Here we go!

Into the Woods
Cast of Characters

Narrator - Morgan Freeman

Stage productions of Into the Woods, for some reason, always double up on some roles. The Narrator and the Mysterious Man are played by the same actor, as are Cinderella's Prince and the Wolf. Meanwhile, you've got poor neglected Snow White and Sleeping Beauty who literally walk onstage, yawn, and leave. THAT'S IT. That's the entire role. So, since it's a movie and it's just my imagination so I can do whatever I want, I'm spreading the love a bit and separating the doubled-up roles.

So, the Narrator. First of all, Morgan Freeman should just narrate EVERYTHING. This is an older, kind of grandfatherly role, unexpectedly witty at times, but mostly outside the action. In fact, he's a lot like Peter Falk in The Princess Bride, if instead of reading to his grandson, the characters ended up rebelling and fed him to Fezzik. :-\ The role doesn't require a strong singer, since he only really sings a bit in "Ever After," but Morgan Freeman apparently had a stealth singing career in the 1970s. LOL WUT.

Cinderella - Sutton Foster

I first saw Sutton Foster in Thoroughly Modern Millie on Broadway, so I know that she can play the sincerity and sweetness required of a character who talks to birds. But she's also now starring on Amy Sherman-Palladino's Bunheads, which means that she can get her mouth around complex, rapid-fire Sondheim lyrics and that she has the dry wit and self-deprecating air of someone whose fairy tale fantasy didn't turn out quite like she'd hoped. Her role in Bunheads, as dance teacher to a group of high school girls, also sort of mimics Cinderella's big-sisterly affection toward Red Riding Hood.

Jack - Eddie Redmayne

Les Miserables obviously proved that this kid can sing. He's thirty, but he looks a lot younger (it's the freckles), so he'd be just right for naive, effeminate, dim-witted Jack. Not actually that different from Marius, now that I think about it, lol, except that Jack's great love affair is with Milky White the cow. Kind of getting away from the point, though, which is that I really want to hear him sing "Giants in the Sky," because I suspect it would be epic.

Baker - Ramin Karimloo

The Baker is kind of old-fashioned and likes to pretend he's the boss, but he frequently relies on his strong-willed wife to take charge of situations, and his journey through the woods makes him realize how much he took her for granted. I had a lot of options here, ranging from James Marsters to Brian D'Arcy James to Jason Segel. It's the leading male role, so I sort of felt like it should be a bigger name, but Ramin Karimloo is SO GOOD that I bet he would be a big name after this movie came out.

Baker's Wife - Anika Noni Rose

Anika is one of those actresses that you probably don't recognize the name, but you go "Oh, HER," when you look at her list of IMDB credits. Dreamgirls, The Good Wife, Private Practice, Company, to name a few. She was also the voice of Tiana in The Princess and the Frog. This is one of the major female roles, as well as one of my personal favorites. I love Joanna Gleason of the original Broadway cast, and it's hard not to compare everyone to her. I think Anika would be different enough that it wouldn't force comparisons, but she has enough of the independent spirit and spunk that is the essence of the character.

Red Riding Hood - Anna Kendrick

If you checked out the link above, you'll see that Anna Kendrick read for the role of Cinderella, which I'm sure she'd be great in, but I think she works much better as Red Riding Hood. I had no idea she could even sing until Pitch Perfect, where she blew me away with her talent. Red is independent, sarcastic, occasionally violent, and kind of a brat, and I think the role sometimes gets underestimated because "I Know Things Now" isn't a vocal showcase like some of the other female characters' solos. But that makes it harder to do well, and I bet Kendrick could do incredible things with it.

Witch - Audra McDonald

This is the lead female role, which is why it went to Meryl Streep. But... look, I love Meryl. I think Meryl should be queen of everything. But COME ON. She's almost the same age as Bernadette Peters, and Peters played this role TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO. The Witch is only supposed to be an old crone for the first half of the show, you know. Late in the first act, she gets "restored to her former state of youth and beauty," and while Meryl's still a lovely lady, "youthful" is not a word that's described her for at least 20 years. Audra McDonald is a goddess, whom I saw on Broadway in Ragtime. She can sing anything, including Sondheim. This is another role that it's hard to see anyone else in (even Vanessa Williams didn't sell me on it in the Broadway revival), but if anyone could make it her own, it's Audra.

Mysterious Man - Mandy Patinkin

Do I really have to explain this one? It's Mandy Patinkin, for crying out loud. You want to hear him sing "No More," I know you do. Plus, he's already got the crazy mountain man beard thanks to Homeland. In my effort to be more diverse, I realize it's a bit of a stretch that both Ramin Karimloo and Amanda Seyfried are Mandy's children, but it's hardly the most unrealistic thing in a musical where magic spells and giants and talking birds are common place occurrences.

Cinderella's Prince - Nathan Fillion

Generally, I am not a huge fan of Nathan Fillion. Like Summer Glau and Eliza Dushku, I tend to think he's rather one note as an actor and therefore incredibly overrated by overly-loyal Whedonverse fans. However, much like a stopped clock is right twice a day, it just so happens that his one note is smug, self-absorbed blowhard. And since Cinderella's Prince is, like, 90% ego, he's pretty much perfect. I mean, the Prince is basically Captain Hammer with a sword and a cape. Boom. Done.

Rapunzel's Prince - Aaron Tveit

Rapunzel's Prince has less ego than his older brother, and I think he has a bit of an inferiority complex from always having to fight for attention. He's got a boyish charm, which sometimes makes him look silly, especially when he's in love, and especially when it means proving his lady love is somehow better than his brother's. They're both philandering jerks, but at least he has the excuse that Rapunzel's a total basket case. I tend to believe that Aaron Tveit, my precious, can do anything, but this role in particular feels like a mash-up of Frank Abagnale and Enjolras. Whatever, he'd rock it.

Rapunzel - Amanda Seyfried

Primarily, I wanted to cast Amanda in this role because I think she looks like she ought to be a Disney princess (it's the huge, wide-set eyes). It's not a very demanding or even interesting role, but it does require a good singing voice. I know she gets criticized for having a weak voice with too much vibrato, but I thought she rocked it in Les Miserables, even though the live singing thing was clearly not the best showcase for her. Her voice has this... I'm not even sure how to describe it? It's like a "bells ringing" kind of quality that I think is actually well-suited for Rapunzel. Also, Amanda's got that hair that goes on for MILES.

Jack's Mother - Allison Janney

This is one casting from the screenplay reading that I wholeheartedly agree with. Allison Janney would definitely not have come to mind for this role, but now that I've seen it suggested, I cannot think of anyone else who could possibly be better. As Jack's single mother, she's got the take-charge attitude to face down giants and princes on her son's behalf, but could also skillfully play her exasperation with Jack's oddities, like having a cow for a best friend.

Cinderella's Stepmother - Christine Baranski

Another casting choice that I fully approve of. I'm loving Christine on The Good Wife right now, and she's got the movie musical experience thanks to Mamma Mia. She would play the hell out of an evil stepmother.

Lucinda - Megan Hilty

We're on a roll here, because this is another screenplay casting choice I love. The only unironically good thing to come out of Smash season 1, Megan Hilty plays a Broadway mean girl like no other, so she's perfect for Cinderella's wicked stepsister.

Florinda - Anna Camp

Anna Camp is another actress, like Anna Kendrick, who I've seen in other things, but didn't realize could sing until Pitch Perfect. She and Megan Hilty look like they could be sisters, don't they?

The rest of these are really small roles, either characters who only appear in one or two scenes, or background characters with no solos. With these kinds of roles, you can either go big with the stunt casting and get a well-known actor who'll do a cameo for the fun of it, or you choose a nobody who's basically a glorified extra and will take any role you give them. Since this isn't real and nobodies don't make for good conversation, I mostly went with flashy cameos:

Cinderella's Father - William H. Macy

This is not a demanding role - no songs, barely any speaking part - and after his performance on Shameless, I figure William H. Macy can do "drunk and oblivious father figure" in his sleep.

Cinderella's Mother - Frances Ruffelle

Frances Ruffelle was willing to do a cameo as a whore in the Les Miserables movie, so why not this? (Granted, she originated the role of Eponine, while she has no similar connection to Into the Woods.) She's only got one scene, and she looks enough like Sutton Foster to play mother and daughter.

Wolf - Neil Patrick Harris

Smarmy, seductive, predatory, and treats women like meat...he's basically Barney Stinson in a wolf costume. I would love to see NPH ham it up in this minor role.

Red Riding Hood's Grandmother - Elaine Stritch

Elaine Stritch may be senile and forgot half her lines when I saw her in A Little Night Music, but I think she could handle one scene as Red's sadistic granny. She's got a wicked sense of humor, and I'd love to see her plotting revenge against the Wolf.

Steward - Aaron Lohr

Everyone's favorite Newsie from the Christian Bale movie. (I have to specify now that there's a Broadway version, and I love them all, too.) This is a thankless role, but he's a familiar face.

Giant - Martha Plimpton

In the musical, the Giant is nothing more than a voice and an imposing shadow, but I bet you could do some fun things with special effects in the film. Either way, Martha Plimpton is hilarious and would be awesome as the vengeful giantess.

Sleeping Beauty - Jayne Wisener
Snow White - Kara Lindsay

Literally, they walk on stage and yawn. That's it. Both are talented actresses (Jayne was Johanna in the movie version of Sweeney Todd and Kara is the female lead in Newsies on Broadway) and would be wasted in these roles, but DEAR GOD DON'T THEY LOOK LIKE DISNEY PRINCESSES?

Date: Feb. 5th, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC)
skygiants: the princes from Into the Woods, singing (agony)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
Haha, I notice all that Les Mis crossover casting, but I can't disagree with any of it. Anika Noni Rose and Anna Kendrick, perfect!

When the news of the movie first came out I remember having fantasy casting discussions, but all I can remember now is Queen Latifah as the Witch -- she's gorgeous in a completely different way from anyone who's ever played the part before, and I think she'd knock it out of the ballpark.

Date: Feb. 5th, 2013 03:39 pm (UTC)
lutamira: ([btvs] [spike] srxly)
From: [personal profile] lutamira

*takes a deep breath*

yes, favorite play of all time being made into a film I can tell people to watch (unlike the filmed broadway version, which tends to lead to a collective groan when suggested, no matter how good I think it is. :) And your casting is awesome!!

Date: Feb. 5th, 2013 04:02 pm (UTC)
likeadeuce: (Default)
From: [personal profile] likeadeuce
Oh that is awesome and fun!

Date: Feb. 6th, 2013 03:19 am (UTC)
ever_neutral: (tbbt ~ not a date)
From: [personal profile] ever_neutral
First of all, Morgan Freeman should just narrate EVERYTHING.
lol true enough

However, much like a stopped clock is right twice a day, it just so happens that his one note is smug, self-absorbed blowhard.

Also \o/ @ Eddie the 15yo and Mandy Patinkin and Aaron Tveit. And agreed about Amanda Seyfried - I thought she was lovely in Les Mis so I don't get the complaints. AND JANNEY AND BARANSKI AND HILTY YES YES GOOD. And lol NPH.

Date: Feb. 18th, 2013 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
We'll go see this together, yeah? Miss you!
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