Thursday, 2 August 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Hello Little Girl (Into the Woods)

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I'll begin.

For the last few weeks we have been looking at more modern versions of Little Red Riding Hood. Many of these versions hark back to the sexual nature of the original. The musical Into The Woods written by James Lapine with music by Stephen Sondheim draws its source material from the darker tones of the original Grimm's fairy tales. In the musical, the stepsisters slice off their toes and heel to fit into the glass slipper. The prince only notices when the shoe fills up with blood. Later, Cinderella's friends the birds swoop down and peck out their eyes.
Image result for robert westenberg wolf
notice the enormous phallus
Lapine and Sondheim really did their research about the origins of Little Red Riding Hood. The wolf's song Hello Little Girl is part hunger, part sexual---all appetite. In the original Broadway stage production the wolf wears a huge erect phallus as he sings. It is also interesting to note, that in the stage production the part of the wolf is played by the same man who enacts the role of Prince Charming. This also harks back to the idea that men are bestial in nature and "some wolves are hairy on the inside."

In 2014, there was a Disney remake of Into the Woods. I despise this version because it seems to mute all the darker themes of the source material and cut out the sexual undertones as well as the black comedy that is so clearly evident in the stage version. Not to mention how much I dislike po-faced Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife. But that's a story for another time.

I have clips to share from  the Broadway production, the London production and the Disney film. I am biased towards the Broadway show. I find the wolf in the London production with his enormous mechanical head with motorised rolling eyes and moving ears too cartoon like (especially when steam comes out of his ears on the line "when you're talking to your meal.")  It seems to miss that deep sexual connection between man and beast and slide over into the ridiculous.  I find Johnny Depp in his "hat with tufty ears" unsatisfying, although I suppose it is an attempt to reflect the connection between man and beast. I just don't like his delivery of the song because he doesn't sing the line "when you're talking to your meal.". Give me a wolf with a big phallus any day.  And by that I mean   I vastly prefer the Robert Westenberg version.

You can watch all three and make your mind up for yourself.

The Broadway version with Robert Westenberg:

The London cast with Clive Carter:

The Disney version with Johnny Depp:
Stay tuned next week where we look at other musical retellings of our tale.

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