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3 stage-to-screen adaptations to see this winter

December 17, 2014

When winter arrives and cold weather rushes in, cuddling up and watching a movie always sounds like a great idea. Whether you gather around with friends at your independent living community or go to the theater with your grandkids, there's nothing better than jumping into an exciting adventure from a comfortable seat.

As the season progresses, a handful of musical movies will be released - including these three upcoming flicks.

1. 'Annie'
The beloved family musical is coming back to the big screen. While the 1982 adaptation that starred Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney and Carol Burnett stuck to the original storyline, this new version took a different perspective. "Annie" has been updated for the 21st century, from the setting and cast to the lingo and lyrics.

"'Annie' has been updated for the 21st century, from the setting and cast to the lingo and lyrics."

Quvenzhané Wallis, previously seen in "12 Years a Slave," portrays little orphan Annie, who was abandoned by her parents before she can remember. She has a note and half of a locket that prove her family is out there somewhere, and they'll come back for her. Jamie Foxx plays Will Stacks, the modern day Daddy Warbucks who's running for mayor of New York City. His campaign manager Guy, played by Bobby Cannavale, encourages Stacks to foster an orphan before the election to improve his image. Although he originally hoped Annie would stay out of his way, Stacks starts truly caring for her - a fact that becomes evident as he saves her from the couple claiming to be her parents. 

'Annie' hits theaters just before Christmas, but it's already been nominated for two Golden Globes - Quvenzhané Wallis for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy and singer Sia for Best Original Song, Motion Picture.

2. 'Into the Woods'
If you miss your fairytale favorites, put "Into The Woods" on your must-see list this winter.

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine wrote the original production in the 1980s, but Rob Marshall jumped aboard to direct the big screen debut. With a star-studded cast and a prime release date - Christmas Day - "Into The Woods" may be bound for musical greatness.

James Corden and Emily Blunt play a baker and his wife who have been living with a curse on their family. The wicked witch, Meryl Streep, sends the couple into the magical woods to steal famous talismans in exchange for a curse-free life. Classic stories from the Brothers Grimm are intertwined, including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel. The cast includes Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine as Cinderella and Prince Charming, Johnny Depp as the wolf, and Frances de la Tour as the giant. 

When the script was adapted for film, a few scenes and plot points were edited out. As a result, "Into The Woods" is rated PG, so it's the perfect movie to see with your whole family over the holidays. A few of the songs you'll hear in this updated version include "Children Will Listen," "Giants in the Sky," "No One Is Alone" and "Agony."

Prepare for dynamic stage-to-screen adaptations.

3. 'The Last Five Years'
For people who love romantic comedies, "The Last Five Years" could be a favorite in 2015. The original musical was written by Jason Robert Brown as he recovered from divorce and heartbreak. "The Last Five Years" has two main characters - Cathy Hiatt and Jamie Wellerstein - and it recounts how they fell in love, were married and fell apart in five years time.

Anna Kendrick plays Cathy, a struggling actress, while Jeremy Jordan takes to the screen as her novelist lover, Jamie. Kendrick is best known for "Up In The Air" and "Pitch Perfect," but Jordan has been in the musical realm, including a stint on the TV show "Smash."

In the movie, Cathy's songs tell the tale of their relationship in reverse, beginning with the aloneness she felt when Jamie walked out. Jamie starts at the beginning and carries the audience through the chronological build-up and break-down of the love affair. The two storylines meet in the middle, when Jamie proposes to Cathy.

The musical started touring off-Broadway in 2001, but it was adapted for the screen by Richard LaGravenese, the director of "P.S. I Love You." It's expected to hit theaters just before Valentine's Day 2015.