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  • Adaptation Displacement: The musical adapts the lesser known Grimm version of Cinderella - which features the golden shoes, a ball for three nights and a tree at her mother's grave that grants the dress. The general public is more familiar with the Perrault version (which, to be fair, is the older of the two, at least in print form), which has the Fairy Godmother and a ball for only two nights.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Are the Princes well-meaning guys with bad impulse control, spoiled by a life that has offered them no challenges at all, or sleazy, manipulative bastards who take advantage of any opportunity to get laid? Or some combination of the two? The script leaves them open to played in both ways, including anywhere on the spectrum between them. This is especially the case for Cinderella's Prince, who gets more screen time and has more impact on the story than his brother; he's very quick to jump on the Baker's Wife, but he does genuinely seem to care about Cinderella.
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    • Rapunzel's prince can come off very differently depending upon how the actor plays his reaction to her insanity, and his reaction to her death can be played as either cowardice or grief. The OBC has him calling to her before she runs in the Giantess's path, and he tries to catch up with her before she gets crushed.
    • Cinderella's Father. In the original production, her father seems to have selfishly abandoned her to his wife and stepdaughters (and quick to change when his real daughter gets to marry the prince), whereas the revival plays him as being "not all there," implying he simply does not realize Cinderella's situation. The 2014 movie version avoids this issue by killing him off. Cinderella's Mother-In-The-Grave gets this, too. The original plays her as a Stage Mom whereas both the revival and the movie version plays her lines empathetically.
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    • The Witch comes across as much more evil in the 2014 movie adaptation, to the point where Rapunzel seems like just another one of her victims than anything else. While at the same time one could also look at The Witch's actions towards Rapunzel as an old woman desperately wants appreciation but doesn't quite know how to express it properly.
    • The Baker's Wife is subject to this too. Notable is her affair with the Prince. Is she a woman who slipped up and realized her mistake? Or is she simply never satisfied with whatever she has?
  • Award Snub:
    • The original production lost the "Best New Musical" Tony to The Phantom of the Opera, and many theater snobs are salty about it to this day.
    • Emily Blunt wasn't nominated for an Academy Award, despite many reviews acclaiming her as one of the best, if not the best, part of the 2014 movie. She was nominated for a Golden Globe, but that was the biggest award she was nominated for.
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    • Chris Pine got very little awards attention despite his uproarious performance being widely praised.
  • Awesome Music: This is Sondheim we're talking about.
    • "Last Midnight", a whole bunch of other stuff that qualifies for Tear Jerker.
    • "Agony" is a Funny Moment for Act 1, but then the reprise in Act 2 is even funnier.
    • "Prologue: Into the Woods" is amazing onstage, but the 2014 movie version is really something special. Especially at the very end, where all the different voices and lyrics come together and flawlessly harmonize and flow with each other... it's enough to drive you to tears.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Despite his small role, Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf in the 2014 movie has been divisive. Some don't mind him and feel he had a good mix of creepy and funny that the role requires but others decry him as the weakest of the cast and he's often compared to Russell Crowe's jarring performance in Les Miserables. Not to mention the constant criticism of Depp repeating his eccentric roles.
  • Broken Base:
    • Rapunzel's fate is averted in the movie. According to Sondheim, he tried to get Rapunzel to die in the 2014 movie like she did in the play. However, most likely due to the more family-oriented audience, they decided they wanted Rapunzel to live. Some are ok with the change and like her getting a happy ending with her prince, but some argue that Rapunzel's death was very significant for the Witch's arc. Check here for the article. A counter point to this says that Rapunzel's death makes more sense in the show - where she's left to fend for herself while pregnant in the desert. In the movie, she's found the next day and so there's less time for her to go mad.
    • The removal of a few songs. One song, "No More", is given an instrumental version and The Baker running away doesn't last for very long. While others argue that it helps the pacing, others retort that it also removes any growth for the Baker. During the song in the stage show, he realizes that by running away, he'd be turning into his father. The 2014 movie, on the other hand, makes it look like he just needed a moment alone to mourn his wife's death. Word of God says they wanted to include the song, but it wouldn't make sense with the Mysterious Man's role in Act 1 being removed. To compensate for it, they built on the Baker's fear of turning into his father earlier. It's been debated whether or not it was enough.
    • The shortening of Act 2 overall. They cut a lot compared to Act 1. It either still contains what made the message of the original or it lessens it.
  • Cant Unhear It: Joanna Gleeson as The Baker's Wife has been heralded by many as one of the most perfect joinings of character and actress in musical theatre history.
  • Chorus-Only Song: "Children Will Listen" actually has a short introductory verse that was not used in any of the main productions. However, it was recorded for the revue "Sondheim on Sondheim" and singers occasionally use it when recording the song on its own.
  • Critical Dissonance: Critics are mixed on the 2014 movie but overall are leaning more on the positive side. Audiences, on the other hand, are even more mixed on the movie, with a 53% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Cinderella's stepsisters cutting parts of their feet off to try and fit into the slipper. The scene is played for as much Cringe Comedy as you'd expect - and the film has a fantastic moment where the prince seems genuinely impressed that Lucinda is able to walk while missing a heel.
  • Ending Fatigue: The 2014 movie version has received complaints that it really should have just been an expanded version of Act 1, especially since some of the darker elements of Act 2 are toned down anyway. Since there is no attempt of translating the story being two separate acts into movie, it also loses many of the powerful parallels of structure and song. It is argued that this is the whole point of Into The Woods - showing what happens after the supposed fairy tale endings, but it divides up much easier on the stage than in film.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The Princes (especially Cinderella’s) are quite beloved for being hilariously hammy jerks, who get to sing what’s arguably the show’s most popular song.
    • Lilla Crawford's portrayal of Red Riding Hood in the 2014 movie. As she had only done Broadway before this, many were impressed that she could work so well in front of the camera too - especially at the age of twelve.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: A weird example, as Baker/Baker's Wife isn't disliked, really, but the fandom generally agrees that after the Baker's Wife dies, after some mourning, the Baker moves on with Cinderella after they agree to live platonically rebuilding a home with Red and Jack. About 90% of the fanfiction ships them.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the theatre version, it is implied that Cinderella's stepfamily died of starvation while lost in the woods. This is one of only two known productions made since the 1990s that killed them off. The other is Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, where they were burned alive in the midst of their Moral Event Horizon.
    • Rapunzel's prince becomes more Adorkable in the 2014 film adaptation, and she's charmed by his awkwardness. Billy Magnussen, who plays the prince, stars as another royal with No Social Skills in Aladdin (2019)...and is considerably less successful.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • The Witch may be mean, but the interactions with her and Rapunzel...
    • Florinda and Lucinda are jerks to Cinderella, but considering they got their feet mutilated for nothing, and then got blinded by Cinderella's birds, it's hard not to feel a little sorry for them.
  • Love to Hate:
  • Magnificent Bitch: The Witch catches the Baker's father stealing her greens years before the Baker himself is born and demands to him that as payment for doing so that she let him take his newborn daughter Rapunzel to raise as her own. While treating Rapunzel well, the Witch is so overprotective to the point that she locks her in a tower and temporarily blinds Rapunzel's prince on one of the occasions he comes to see her. Years after taking Rapunzel, needing to break the curse her own mother set on her, the Witch goes to the Baker and his wife revealing she placed an infertility spell on them and that they will only be able to reverse it if they retrieve the necessary items to help her reverse her own, while noticing when the white cow they get is disguised with flower rather than being the right color. This ultimately is successful for all parties and things are well, until the Witch insists that Jack be sacrificed to the Giant's wife when she wants vengeance for her husband's death.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • One very popular comment about the 2014 movie is that for some reason, Chris Pine seems far more Shatner-esque as Cinderella's Prince than when he's actually playing Captain Kirk.
    • "WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO cares?!?"
  • Narm:
    • The Baker's Wife's death, since what is shown is her slipping from a branch and the few seconds of the camera focusing on the branch.
    • The Giant would probably be a lot more intimidating if her voice wasn't pitched down.
  • Narm Charm:
    • "Giants In The Sky " and Daniel Huttlestone's lisp got some people laughing, but also people calling it "adorable."
    • The Agony number seems almost like a bizarre attempt to be Narm. It comes off as quite silly nonetheless.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The Wolf. It's no wonder they got Johnny Depp in the 2014 movie.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Lilla Crawford, who plays Red Riding Hood in the 2014 film, later voices the title character in the Nickelodeon series Sunny Day. She's also a regular on Netflix's The Who Was? Show
  • Rewatch Bonus: In the theater, during the "One Midnight Gone" scene, the Witch says "sometimes, the things you most wish for are not to be touched". Also, the mysterious old man calls the Baker "son" when he confronts him about the gold coins.
  • Signature Scene:
    • “Agony” is widely regarded as the comedic high point of the show. The hamtastic battle of Wangst between the Princes never fails to be a crowd pleaser.
    • "On the Steps of the Palace" is another one of the show’s most beloved songs, for its legendary wordplay and fast pace.
    • The opening scene, which introduces almost all of the main characters and culminates in the titular number.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Cinderella's prince is in the woods in Act 2...not to slay the giant, as everyone assumes, but to pursue Sleeping Beauty and kiss any random woman that catches his eye, even if they're protesting like the Baker's wife. His own brother is actually looking for his wife while considering Snow White, and in the OBC tries to keep her from running under the giant's foot. Cinderella's prince keeps lying that he's going to do it, but isn't even there when the survivors first meet the Giantess. (Yes, this gets lampshaded by a lot of characters, including Cinderella when she hears from the birds that he kissed the Baker's wife and rolled in the hay with her.) Her prince could have gotten the same Character Development that the others do if he had agreed to help with the climactic plan, to turn away from the challenge of finding a permanent chase in favor of actually acting like a king; it would also be a moral dilemma for Cinderella to work with him because as he puts it apologetically, "I was raised to be charming, not sincere." They could then figure out if their relationship si not saving. Instead, he and Cinderella have a (very mature) breakup where he apologizes for not being the man she thought he was, and she wishes him luck with his quest to find an unachievable girl. Cinderella doesn't tell anyone, instead of being focused on comforting Little Red about her family being dead and hiding her anguish about the betrayal.
    • Rapunzel being The Baker's Sister is NEVER touched upon, outside The Baker asking about her briefly at the start of the play. One would assume that since it was a major plot point for the Witch's character, it would also be something that The Baker would ask further questions about. Especially since, to break the curse, The Baker's Wife stole some of Rapunzel's hair. It also doesn't help that The Baker actually witnesses Rapunzel's death, and yet we only focus on the Witch's reaction. Had The Baker's relationship with Rapunzel been explored, it could have helped add to an already great character; instead, it all feels like a wasted opportunity. The fact that she and Cinderella are sisters-in-law is also never touched upon; it would be sweet to see them interact considering they have similar back-stories. This gets worse in the 2014 movie version, where Rapunzel survives and the Baker actually does implore about her whereabouts to the Witch.note 
  • Values Dissonance: Given that the story of Little Red Riding Hood is generally accepted as being a cautionary tale about rape, it's becoming precarious in our post-Me-Too, hashtag-rape-culture society that the musical's ultimate statement on the matter is that it is up to potential victims to take responsibility for keeping themselves out of danger ("Don't be scared ... just be prepared") due to the reality that wishful thinking won't actually do anything to provide safety ("Do not put your faith in a cape and a hood; they will not protect you the way that they should").
  • Wangst: Agony Part 1 is essentially a hammy wangst-off ("Agony!" "Misery!" "Woe!") between the two princes melodramatically comparing their situations with their princesses to the worst kind of pain and it is glorious. Agony Part 2 is even worse when the two men remember they are married; Rapunzel's prince is at least making an effort to look for her as she wandered off, but Cinderella's prince doesn't care at all that a giant is in the woods.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?:
    • Oh, it's a cheery musical with all of our favorite fairy tale characters together! Then Act 2 comes around, most of the characters get killed by a rampaging giant, and suddenly it's not so cheery anymore. The show has enjoyed myriad School Play productions anyway, but as of The New '10s the show's licensor now offers a "Junior" version for school and children's theater groups that drops Act 2.
    • Plus, the message of "Children will listen" is more aimed at parents (adults).
    • The 2014 movie adaptation, being a Disney movie musical based on fairy tales. Yes, it's a somewhat Lighter and Softer adaptation of the original stage musical, but the movie still ends with a rampaging giant and the deaths of major characters. And note that they still leave in Cinderella's sisters mutilating themselves (albeit with a Gory Discretion Shot to make it more appropriate for the PG audience).
  • Win Back the Crowd:
    • The first trailer for the 2014 movie showed none of the singing and was met with mixed reaction among fans. Later trailers showed the singing and increased anticipation for the movie.
    • The film seems to have restored Rob Marshall back to the good graces of musical film directors. After reviving the genre with Chicago (though Moulin Rouge! deserves some of the credit too) and getting a Best Picture win, he suffered from Tough Act to Follow with the lukewarm reception to 9. Into the Woods was a success critically and commercially, and led to him helming Mary Poppins Returns.

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