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filmlover

Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street

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Before a lot of people write in saying they see the recent Johnny Depp film in their onscreen TV listings tonight, be calm (or Mr. Todd will get you). In actual fact, what is on is a 1982 videotaped version of the onstage Broadway musical with Angela Lansbury and George Hearn, and is part of the Lansbury SOTM. (It was filmed during the tour here in Los Angeles, I believe.) Both actors are wonderfully hammy in it (but for this kind of material, what would you expect?) and the Stephen Sondheim music and lyrics are great.

 

It's different than what you are used to seeing, but enjoy it for what it is.

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I hope it's on early? I dont have room on my DVR to record it! Yes, it was broadcast on PBS years ago. (Havent seen it since then) Was done when they were playing in the show in LA........

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filmlover, my DirecTV is definitely saying it is the Johnny Depp movie. I am glad they are showing her performance. I have seen clips of it on Youtube in the past. She was a busy woman in the 1980s. I recently read an article where Miss Lansbury said she was very grateful TCM is airing this performance. Great to know that a living SOTM is aware that they are getting the honor.

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I'm thrilled TCM is including it in Angela Lansbury Month! I hope no one objects that it "wasn't a theatrical movie."

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I too think it's pretty dang cool that they're showing a non-movie when a non-movie is called for. I would love to see more things like this, sporatically and when appropriate. But, really, can you have Angela Lansbury as SOTM without showing this, one of her classic performances? Enjoy, all you newcomers!

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As I write this, zap2it dot com, imdb dot com, and the onscreen listings coming through my digital cable box, proudly displaying a Rovi logo, are all predicting the appearance of the 2007 Johnny Depp version on TCM this evening. Going out on a lonely limb, tvguide dot com predicts that the 1982 version with Angela Lansbury will fill out a stretch of Angela Lansbury appearances during Ms. Lansbury’s stint as TCM’s Star of the Month.

 

Early excavations of the January schedule taken at the site known as tcm dot com gave hints that something titled SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET-DO NOT SCHEDULE, from 1982, starring George Hearn and Angela Lansbury, would be scheduled. As the excavations proceeded this was replaced by SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET also from 1982, also starring George Hearn and Angela Lansbury. Well. Mr. Denham usually makes those nice animal pictures. (Of course, in a situation like this, one should never misunderestimate Frankie Laine's ability to come through in the clutch.)

 

All of which just goes to show that even major media outlets demonstrate varying degrees of proficiency at the TCM schedule game.

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For anyone who may have trepidation about watching the Sondheim stage show, here is an excerpt from a 2010 article by NYTimes Business writer (and jazz music fan) Joe Nocera. He writes about seeing his first Sondheim musical - the production of "Sweeny Todd" at his daughter's high school.

 

MY midlife obsession with Stephen Sondheim began on a Friday night in April 14 years ago, when my daughter Kate persuaded me to take her to her school's spring musical. She was 12, a seventh grader dreaming of the day when she would be cast in one of the school's productions. I was 44, a lifelong jazz snob, who viewed the prospect of watching teenagers perform a musical with dread. We were going to see something called "Sweeney Todd"; I'd never heard of it. Music and lyrics by Mr. Sondheim. I had no clue.

 

I can't recall the exact moment, but at some point during the first act I turned to my daughter with an astonished grin. The melodies were so rich, the harmonies so gorgeous, the lyrics so inventive and lush. I had never heard anything like it in my life. (And this was a high school production!)

 

I soon learned that the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn., was also staging "Sweeney Todd". I practically ran to see it. I didn't quite trust what I'd heard with Kate. But at the Goodspeed I was once again dazzled, transported, besotted with the experience of seeing - and hearing - "Sweeney Todd". When I fall for something, I fall hard. Yet I don't think I've ever fallen as hard for anything as I did for Mr. Sondheim's music. His songs and shows became central to my life, insinuating themselves into my heart and mind. I'm a business writer, but I'd often find myself, in the middle of trying to write a tough-minded article, haunted by some Sondheim song that I couldn't get out of my head.

 

My appreciation for jazz had always been a cerebral thing. My reaction to Mr. Sondheim's admittedly cerebral music, however, was deeply emotional. And a good production of the shows I liked best - "Sunday in the Park With George", "Company", "Follies", "Pacific Overtures"; and "Sweeney Todd"; - could leave me feeling drained. My former wife once asked me what it was about Mr. Sondheim’s music that I found so compelling. I shrugged helplessly. "He makes me cry", I finally replied.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/theater/07sondheim.html?pagewanted=print

 

Perhaps a first-time viewer will have a similar response and awakening tonight. There are worse things to happen in one's life.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

 

Edited by: hlywdkjk on Jan 25, 2012 5:46 PM

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I am so happy and excited "Sweeney Todd" w/Angela Lansbury is performing. Yes, she will be greatly remembered for this part. I lived in New York at the time and she was the star of Broadway. I went to the UK recently and saw the production or similiar to the one they are going to produce on the West End with Imedla Sheldon (excellent choice) and Michael Ball (excellent). Sonheim was very pleased with the production and said 'yes' it must be played at the West End.

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I'm grateful to this thread (and TCM). I assumed that the Sweeney Todd being screened was the 1928 version. Just tuned in, in time to see/hear my favorite song from the show: "Have a Little Priest." I think it's a nice idea to show this sort of thing on occasion. I saw the original production, with Angela and Len Cariou -- and have seen it several times since, including in London with Julia McKenzie and Alun Armstrong, and at the New York City Opera.

 

I'd like to see a tribute to Rosalind Russell which would include the television version of her Broadway triumph, Wonderful Town.

 

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I've seen this performed twice. Once, here in Los Angeles, with the East/West Players, a mostly Asian company.

 

The second, on Broadway in 2006, with Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone, which was a wonderful production where each of the actors also played at least one musical instrument in it.

 

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> {quote:title=Swithin wrote:}{quote}I think it's a nice idea to show this sort of thing on occasion.

I agree with that.

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Now this was a real treat! Thank you, TCM!

 

I have seen clips from this production on those Best of Broadway tributes that PBS airs now and again, so it was terrific to get to see the whole thing.

 

No offense to George Hearn, who was absolutely fabulous as Todd, but I would love to see a Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury version of Sweeney Todd. They had great chemistry in their Murder, She Wrote pairings of Jessica Fletcher and Michael Hagerty, so I can only imagine that chemistry on stage.

 

I hope TCM will occasionally air specials like this.

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George Hearn was the star of the touring production (which this was) I think he replaced Cariou late in the Broadway run (I think anyway). Cariou is on the original cast recording. But Hearn is good also. Was so happy to see this again. Hadnt seen it since its original airing on PBS decades ago....Cant believe people got so bent out of shape about TCM airing this......

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There is a video of Cariou's (and the original cast's) performance in the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive, which is part of The New York Public Library at Lincoln Center. However, restrictions apply to viewing that tape, which can only be viewed in the department's viewing room.

 

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Was the production scaled down for the touring version?

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I don't know, probably not too much, since they usually don't want people in the regions to be short-changed, though theater considerations play into it. The original production in NYC was in a very large theater with a huge stage. The taping by the library of the original production probably used fewer cameras, since it is meant for study purposes and not broadcast.

 

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There was another thread but it got locked! (LOL)......

 

 

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*"Was the production scaled down for the touring version?"* - Hibi

 

I believe the LA production that was taped in 1983 (and was broadcast last night on TCM) was a version that played "limited runs" in major cities across the country. The show would run weeks (and up to a few months) in one city but not run indefinitely. The sets and props would still need to be "portable" to be transported to other theaters on the tour itinerary. But I think the moveable scaffolding and stairs seen last night were very similar to the sets of the Broadway version. What was seen last night was probably the highest quality touring production ever mounted of the show at that time.

 

This differs from "open-ended Runs" in large cities of shows which would have sets created just for that theater and be cast as a "permanent" production for the city. Large cities like Toronto or Chicago would often get a "permanent" production all their own. An "open-ended" "The Phantom Of The Opera" ran in LA for years. But today, such productions are very rare. They are risky and not necessarily cost-effective. A ten-week run in Los Angeles in now considered lengthy.

 

In the 80s, a "major city" tour of a Broadway show could travel between LA, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Boston (among a few other cities) with the same set and much of the same company. But the "Stars" may not be seen in each of the the cities along the way. Oft times LA will have "original Broadway cast members" added to the company only for the Los Angeles dates. "Hairspray" and "Spamalot" had "stars" dropped into the cast only for the Los Angeles productions. I believe George Hearn played "Sweeney Todd" in every city on that tour but Angela Lansbury did not. She may have appeared only in LA because the show was going to be recorded. But I am not certain.

 

Creatively, there may be changes made to the touring show. It could be due to set and scenery limitations from having to mount the show in theaters of different sizes. Financial considerations also have an effect on touring shows. Often costumes may not be as elaborate as those made for the Broadway run. And the size of the company may be smaller too. While there could be 30 actors/singers/dancers in a large musical on Broadway, the cast may number only 20 on tour.

 

Or changes could be the result of artistic considerations. Humor in a show can sometimes be made more "broad" for shows on the road. There is still the belief that "the provinces" are not as sophisticated as New York audiences.

 

There are also tours that are very scaled down and play smaller cities for a week or less. Everything about the show needs to be able to be set up and dismantled easily and quickly. Such productions need to get from Green Bay to Rapid City in 48 hours. Large set pieces are typically not part of such touring productions. They probably have less elaborate, moving chandeliers, helicopters or barricades that are found in "larger" productions - if they have them at all. These productions would be "re-staged" to take into consideration the lack or limitations of these stage elements on that tour.

 

And then there are the "Vegas versions" that are not only scaled down but highly abridged productions of Broadway shows.

 

Last night I was surprised with the "absence" of audience reaction in the soundtrack throughout much of the recording. Applause and laughter that was part of the original recording of the show was "missing" in this new digital copy shown last night. (I still have a copy of the original taped version from showings on Bravo years ago.) I don't know if that was accidental or intentional. But it was unexpected to not hear applause after many songs.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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Swithin-

"Have a Little Priest" is also my favorite song. So unbelievable clever.

 

It's Fop

Finest in the shop

And we have some shepherd's pie peppered

With actual shepherd

On top

 

So clever. Steve has got to be one of the greatest lyricist of all time (but then I'm not familiar enough with opera lyrics to make that statement).

 

Ok, TCM, now can you show the amazing stage production of Sunday in the Park with George, with Bernadette and Mandy and the height of their powers?

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It's the fun little tongue-twister in the entire score. I'd say it's the humorous highlight of all the songs.

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I'm glad all you folks are so giddy over the fact that TCM, supposedly a movie channel, is starting to show left overs from PBS, (at first I thought I was watching OVATION or BRAVO), but frankly I thought it STUNK. When the DISH NETWORK listed it as the Johhny Depp BLOOD FEST, I thought "oh crap, this is what TCM has come to". Now, after viewing this drek = excuse for a broadway show, I'm sorry the Depp version was not shown, AT LEAST it's a movie. I don't know, maybe it was missing something like a few pledge breaks. Is this the best that TCM could do for Angela Lansbury? The best thing about Angela in this heap of manure was when she was thrown in the oven. Why not a block of MURDER, SHE WROTE? I'm surprised TCM is not showing the DISNEY cartoon BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, or are they? The DISH NETWORK would probably list JEAN COCTEAU'S film instead. Why do we allow TCM to get away with perpetrating this kind of crap. People want MOVIES, not plays, not documentaries, not left overs from other channels. Because if that's what you all want, then you're not the movie fans you claim to be.

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We're glad you're glad. LOL. I wouldnt have minded a showing of Beauty and the Beast, as I've never seen it. TCM showed a televised version of a Broadway musical. The world didnt end. I had a great time..........

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