The Ballad Continues: Sweeney Todd Off-Broadway

  • January 24, 2017

sweeneyAs a kid, one of my favorite films was the tour version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with Angela Lansbury and George Hearn. The original cast included Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou and the musical has been represented by many duos! The latest couple playing Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney will be performing Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theatre next year. Tony Award winners Norm Lewis and Carolee Carmello will be “trying the Priest” Off-Broadway from April 11th- August 13th.

City on Fire

The last time we saw Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd in New York City, it was in concert at Lincoln Center starring Bryn Terfel as Sweeney, Emma Thompson as Lovett, and Audra McDonald as The Beggar Woman. The production was live telecast and reinvented the usual concert musical performance ideal. The cast started out in their fancy attire in front of music stands and a full orchestra until they stripped themselves of the “polite performance behavior,” changed into costumes, chucked their scripts, and performed the musical full out. It was an incredible performance.

Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel

Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel

Before the Lincoln Center performance, we saw another reinvented production of Sweeney Todd at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in 2005. The production starred Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris. Directed by John Doyle, it transferred to New York from the West End. This production was revolutionary because the actors worked at the orchestra along with their regular parts. Lupone played the tuba and the percussion instruments while Cerveris played the guitar. Since this production, other musical revivals have followed suit in asking their performers to also act as the orchestra. The most recent Roundabout revival of Cabaret adopted this idea as well.

Did You Come In For a Pie, Sir?

This newest adaptation of the show, arranged by Christopher Bond, is supposed to be an awesome experience. The press notes from the production state:

“…immerses audiences in a completely new theatrical experience. This Sweeney Todd comes to New York City following sold-out runs in London where the show debuted in Harrington’s Pie and Mash Shop, the oldest continuously operating pie shop in the city, before transferring to a West End venue on Shaftesbury Avenue. The working pie-shop environment will be re-created at the Barrow Street Theatre.”
Pies will actually be sold to audience members during the production. Hopefully, the pies won’t be as expensive as the drinks at Broadway theatres! Chances are pretty low on that front…

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