Sweeney Todd – Ahmanson Theatre

It’s closed now so you missed it, but it was definitely an interesting experience. It was REALLY nice to see the musical again after the movie since there were bits and pieces that I missed in the movie that are SO delicious on stage (mostly the main chorus – “Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd”). It was a very interesting performance because they make 2 major departures from the traditional presentation of it:
1) The play is more symbolic than realistic, taking place in a mental ward, allowing for each of the actors to extend their character into a psychological condition. Also there’s far less actual violence than in the original. For every death, a bucket of “blood” is transfered for another bucket and that character puts on a bloodied doctor’s coat for the remainder of the show. Also the “chair” which is a really cool part of the non-symbolic show was a small white coffin that Sweeney carried around which was interesting….

2) The cast of 10 people WAS the orchestra and onstage the entire time. The Beadle was hidden upstage most of the show playing his VERY nice keyboard. Tobias played the violin (which according to my dad is incredible for this musical because Tobias’ singing part is a HALF STEP away from the violin part and he was a masterful performer). Mrs. Lovett played the tuba for at least one song and Sweeney played like three notes on his trumpet since he’s pretty much always doing something. Joanna and Anthony played cello’s which was a really nice counterpoint to their love story.

The entire show is very carefully coordinated/constructed/choreographed as the actors manipulate not only the minimalist, symbolic set pieces but their instruments
and it was very impressive to watch.

Now it didn’t bother me that much, but it drove the rest of my group insane that Mrs. Lovett’s costume was more 1940’s Nazi Germany than Victorian London. “She looked like an old Sally Bowles with all those sparkles”….but whatever.

A very interesting take on the musical and serves as a delightful companion to the visual treat that the movie is…even if Tim Burton leans atheist (wouldn’t let the chorus sing “God that’s good!” in the song, didn’t include the bit about the priest meat pie being “Heavenly!”).

The crowd at the Ahmanson on Friday night was unusually rowdy and uncultured. Sigh…

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