Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Stephen Sondheim, Michael Cerveris, Patti LuPone|
Sweeney Todd (2005 Broadway Revival Cast)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Tony Award winners Michael Ceveris (Assassins) and Patti Lupone (Evita) lead a ten-person ensemble as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett in the cast album from the celebrated new Broadway production of Sweeney Todd: the Demon Ba... more »
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Tony Award winners Michael Ceveris (Assassins) and Patti Lupone (Evita) lead a ten-person ensemble as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett in the cast album from the celebrated new Broadway production of Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Originally produced in 1979, and considered a core work of Sondheim canon, Sweeney Todd has not been seen on Broadway in more than sixteen years. The revival opened to unanimous raves at the Eugene O'Neill Theater.
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A new and very different SWEENEY
Mark Andrew Lawrence | Toronto | 02/01/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Now, by way of London, comes a re-conceptualized staging that had the New York critics spewing superlative praise. Starring Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris, it has become one of the biggest hits of the 2005/06 Broadway season, and Nonesuch has produced a 2 CD set of the new production.
This is a very different SWEENEY recording. Jonathan Doyle's staging takes it down to almost a chamber opera. Where once the emotions were played big they are now small and understated.
All of that comes through brilliantly on the new recording. Yes the smaller orchestration may take some getting used to - but not much.
What is frustrating are the gaps in continuity. (This was also a
slight problem with the original 1979 cast album: there are spots
where the OCR skips dialogue. Four LP sides were not quite enough to hold the entire 2 1/2 hour show.)
With the new Nonesuch set, the first act is fairly cohesive, but Act Two has some glaring gaps where scenes are skipped and because they are referenced in later scenes the cuts become even more obvious.
There is a story behind this. The label intended a single
disc "highlights" recording but discovered they had recorded 88
minutes of music - about 10 minutes more than a standard CD can hold. They could not afford t bring the cast back into the studio (for cast albums each performer is paid a week's salary) so they decided to spread the material over two not-very-full discs.
Fortunately, the label has included a thick booklet with pictures of the production, all the lyrics and a detailed synopsis to help fill in the plot-holes.
Though the role of Mrs Lovett is OWNED by Angela Lansbury, Patti
LuPone offers her own unique take here and sings even better than she did on the 2001 concert recording with the New York Philharmonic.
Michael Cerveris gives such chilling performance here that he just may well eclipse both George Hearn and Len Cariou on the previous records.
While no revival cast recording can ever eclipse the original this is certainly a worthy alternate.
Stunning new 'Sweeney'
Steven Valenti | Cleveland, OH | 02/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A minor complaint upfront: I wish they included the entire score.
Otherwise, this is an excellent recording of Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd": intimate, gritty, and very effective. The conceit of this production is well known by now-- the actors double as a minimalist orchestra and the action takes place in an insane asylum, suggesting a re-imagining of the horror through the eyes of the simpleminded, unwitting accomplice, Tobias. It's a brilliant, daring concept for a musical that's already, well, brilliant and daring.
On the recording, the stripped down orchestra works very well, drawing you into the characters and the story in a way that feels completely new-- even to someone who's listened to the original recording ad nauseum and hasn't seen this new production. The instrumentation keeps the horror close in a way you don't always get with a large size orchestra. (I would not, however, advocate that this version is definitive, just a fantastic new interpretation on its own terms.)
This new recording has a lot to offer. There are moments that are more spine tingling than ever: just listen to this version of "Epiphany," which is downright bloodcurdling in a way previous renditions didn't quite convey. The frequent reprises of "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" have never sounded creepier. There is also a beautiful simplicity newly apparent in many of the numbers; the second act "Johanna," a highlight in every version of "Sweeney," has never sounded better. "Wait" and "By the Sea" also take on a renewed attractiveness. Everything becomes more impressive the more you think about the fact that the actors are completely responsible for all that you're hearing. Overall, this "Sweeney" just feels really, um, cool. Very cool.
The cast is amazing. Michael Cerveris is a powerful and mesmerizing Sweeney, and Patti Lupone is wonderful as a coolly evil Mrs. Lovett. Manoel Felciano sounds perfect as Tobias-- his rendition of "Not While I'm Around" is particularly memorable. I also like the approach of Mark Jacoby as the Judge-- he plays him as less a lecherous pervert, and more like just an ordinary man-- and he's all the more scary because of it. Some might question the casting of a woman, Donna Lynne Champlin, as Pirelli, but within the already surreal parameters established, it's a perfectly suitable alternative.
The one question I have is whether or not this version would appeal to people who are not already "Sweeney" devotees. Ultimately, I think it can be easily appreciated even by those new to the show. That doesn't mean you should skip the original, though. Both are necessary. And if you really feel like being a fanatic, get the New York Philharmonic recording too.
Original is Better!
Muscial Man | PA | 04/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While this recording is fine in its own respect, it just doesn't live up to the original. The original cast recording was massive, loud, and fierce, while this one is a little subdued. I really like both Sweeney's, and I agree that Michael Cerveris is quite creepy. There will never be anyone like Angela Lansbury, so wonderful Patti LuPone doesn't stand a chance. I think her voice is too nice for the part of Mrs. Lovett. Anthony Hope is my character in respect to singing, and Benjamin Magnuson just isn't Victor Garber. His voice sounds to old and operatic for the part. Anthony is supposed to be a young guy in love. One improvement, however, is the part of Johanna. While Sarah Rice was good, Lauren Molina has a much clearer and innocent voice. Sarah Rice's could be a bit too much a times. Altogether, it's not too bad, but I prefer the big sounds of the original cast recording."