Friday, March 17, 2006

Must See - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Not for the faint-of-heart, the current Broadway productionof Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" is a powerful alternative to happy-go-lucky shows like "The Producers" or "Hairspray". "Sweeney Todd" has long been my beloved favorite musical and the original 1979 production, starring Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou, has always seemed an untouchable for me. Hence, I was skeptical, but nonetheless excited, about the new production starring two of Broadway's greatest talents, Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone. Harold Prince's original grand "Sweeney" couldn't be more different from John Doyle's new radically scaled-down version and yet, without in any way reducing my love for the first show, the new "Sweeney" is equally, if not more, emotionally effective. Reduced to 10 performers (from the original 30), playing their own instruments, with no orchestra or conductor, this production is more intimate and, consequently, more harrowing and visceral. The sparer orchestrations also provide the audience with more insight into the wonderful Sondheim compositions. The cast is remarkable, not only in their ability to wield their instruments with deft skill and excellent timing, but in their gifted acting and singing. A standout is the young Manoel Felciano as Toby. I look forward to seeing a great deal more of him in future shows. The cast and staging convey superbly the humor, beauty and horror of Sondheim's masterpiece. From it's first moment, the new "Sweeney Todd" is gripping and has the power to pin you to your seat and gut you like only the greatest theatre can do.


". . .under the bold direction and design of John Doyle, this minimalist re-imagining is almost unbearable exciting."
John Lahr, The New Yorker

"[Sweeney Todd] burrows into your thoughts with the poisoned seductiveness of a campfire storyteller who knows what really scares you."
Ben Brantley, The New York Times

"If you can't recall the last time a live, writhing stage production gutted you stem to stern, attend the tale of Sweeney Todd."
Scott Brown, Entertainment Weekly

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Now Playing at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre
230 West 49th Street
(Between Broadway and 8th Avenue)
New York, NY

Tickets are available online at
or call
(212)239.6200 (NYC Metro Area)
(800)432.7250 (Outside NYC Metro Area)


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