Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Broadway Version)
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Times are hard in 1846 London and one must make do. So Nellie Lovett adds something extra to the meat pies she peddles on Fleet Street. The secret ingredient: freshly murdered victims of her partner in crime, barber Sweeney Todd. Composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim refashions a macabre tale into a musical masterwork in this dazzling performance of the 1979 Broadway hit originally staged by Harold Prince. In her Tony-winning role, Angela Lansbury plays Nellie. George Hearn turns his stage role of twisted Sweeney into an Emmy-winning triumph. The score coils around itself in ever-tightening spirals. The lines ripple with black humor and madness. Enter Sweeney's tonsorial parlor. Attend the tale.]]>
Top Customer Reviews
Stephen Sondheim has said that if people insist on putting "Sweeney Todd" into a category it would be black comic operetta, which is as good a way as any of defining its uniqueness. If you are going to have a barber who slits the throats of his customer team up with a woman who bakes the corpses into meat pies, then black comedy would be the way to go. But what makes "Sweeney Todd" so marvelous is that it mixes the dark comedy with chilling horror. For the most part the comedy is carried by Lansbury's Mrs. Lovett, starting with "The Worst Pies in Lond," while Hearn's Todd provides the chills, beginning with the hauntingly beautiful "My Friends," sung to his razors. Of course, it is "A Little Priest" that brings these two elements together, but while it is no doubt the show's signature piece it is not the supreme dramatic moment.Read more ›
Although I usually curse Warner Brothers for having the worst track record of any major studio for not releasing their extensive library of films to DVD, today I applaud them for giving us back this wonderful show with its delightful performances on DVD. Not only can we relish Angela Lansbury in her Tony-winning role as Mrs. Lovett, but we get the extra bonus of seeing George Hearn as Sweeney, to my mind the best Sweeney I've ever seen (and I've seen two others as well -- Len Cariou, who originated the role on Broadway and was probably the sexiest Sweeney (making Lovett's attraction for him perfectly understandable), but without Hearn's depth and a bit too American (or rather, Canadian), and Denis Quilley, who performed the role in London. Although Quilley's acting and singing talents were a match for Hearn's, he was physically not exactly right.
As for the Mrs. Lovetts I've seen, the West End production's Sheila Hancock will always be my favorite for her ability to capture all the comedic aspects of the role (as Angela Lansbury does too) while still managing to plumb the pure evil depths and total amorality of the character. Ms. Hancock had the ability to make the theatre-goer laugh his head off one moment, and then to send chills down his spine the next. But who could not love Angela as well? And aside from Ms.Read more ›
One person here commented that he could not hear the audience. The audience is there in the extreme left and right channels just as always. Maybe you need to get your sound system tweaked? Or use the 2 channel stereo mix. But it's all there.
Best of all this transfer brings out details in the orchestra that were never heard before.
The performances remain as vivid as when this production was first broadcast in 1982. I have always had minor reservations about Betsy Joslyn's cross-eyed Joanna and some of the cuts made in the show: The tooth-pulling section of "The Contest", the Judge's whipping number, and most of the "Parlour Songs" were trimmed form the show due to overlength. The road tour set is not as elaborate as the one used on Broadway (in the opening and closing numbers Sweeney Todd rose out of the stage on a lift... very effective!) but this is the SWEENEY TODD that Hal Prince staged.
One other bit of good news that no one else here has mentioned: There are subtitles so you can follow along the trickier lyrics. Strange that there are none on the DVD's of INTO THE WOODS, PASSION or SUNDAY IN THE PARK. It's most welcome on SWEENEY TODD.
Of course it is best to see stage musicals live in the theatre, but this video production offers a good approximation of what it was like when SWEENEY TODD was unleashed on us 25 years ago.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I first seen the play on Broadway when I went on a trip with my High School. I truly enjoyed the play and I went out and bought the Soundtrack the next day. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Henry
My only gripe: there's no vid available with Len Cariou (the original Sweeney - who played it less for laughs, and had a more stunning voice)
Nonetheless, I'm just glad that... Read more
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