Sweeney Todd OCR Question

Eos
Leading Actor
joined:11/7/06
Sweeney Todd OCR Question
Posted: 9/9/13 at 07:50pm
Where was the Sweeney Todd cast recording recorded? I mean, some numbers sound like they were recorded onstage (the sound of Lovett smacking pie dough in "The Worst Pies...") as opposed to a studio. I've always wondered about this and knew you guys would have the answer. Thanks in advance.
The Overture is part of the show, people. Please shut your pie hole.
St. Louis Theatre Snob
beaemma
Stand-by
joined:11/24/09
Sweeney Todd OCR Question
Posted: 9/9/13 at 08:25pm
The sound of the bodies sliding down the trap door is also great and very real sounding. Due to limited space, I used to have one stereo speaker in a higher location than the other, and I loved hearing the bodies slide from the high speaker to the low.
luvcaroline
Leading Actor
joined:10/19/05
Sweeney Todd OCR Question
Posted: 9/10/13 at 09:26pm
I'd be interested to know this also. The OCR is one of my favorite CD's of any genre (and I like a lot of different kinds of music!)
Smaxie
Broadway Legend
joined:9/26/05
Sweeney Todd OCR Question
Posted: 9/10/13 at 11:06pm
It was recorded at RCA's Studio A, which used to be on 44th Street near Sixth Avenue. Most of the RCA cast recordings of the 70s and 80s were recorded there.
Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.
morosco
Broadway Legend
joined:7/10/04
Sweeney Todd OCR Question
Posted: 9/10/13 at 11:24pm

As far as I know all of the original Sweeney Todd cast recording was done at RCA's Studio A at 110 W. 44th Street in NYC (it is no longer a recording studio). Sound effects were added to the recording "radio drama" style to give listeners a sense of what was happening, example footsteps as Judge Turpin runs out of Todd's establishment. I'm not sure if the sound effects were done as the actors recorded or if they were added later.

As for Worst Pies in London it has always sounded to me like Lansbury added the grunts and moans to her own take. It doesn't sound like she sang and grunted within the same take maybe to make sure the lyrics came through cleanly. (The tempo is also much faster than it was performed in the theatre I think.)
Photos of the recording session

Eos
Leading Actor
joined:11/7/06
Sweeney Todd OCR Question
Posted: 9/10/13 at 11:37pm
Ahhh. That makes sense. Very interesting, morosco. And what great photos! Thanks, guys!
The Overture is part of the show, people. Please shut your pie hole.
St. Louis Theatre Snob
justoldbill
Broadway Star
joined:10/17/07
Sweeney Todd OCR Question
Posted: 9/11/13 at 10:17pm
I think the sound of the bodies decending the chute was a special effect generated (probably) by Thomas Shepard and his sound people especially for the recording. He also used it in the disco version.

Well-well-well-what-do-you-think-of-that-I-have-nothing-here-to-pay-my-train-fare-with-only-large-bills-fives-and-sevens....
Updated On: 9/11/13 at 10:17 PM
frontrowcentre2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/20/05
Sweeney Todd OCR Question
Posted: 9/11/13 at 11:16pm
In an interview with Playbill at the time, Lansbury explained that they tried three different tempos in the recording studio and everyone agreed that the faster tempo worked best for the recording. She went on to say that in theater she had to work with props and the slower tempo was needed to make the lyrics audible.

Thomas Sheppard has said that doing the Houston Grand Opera recording of PORGY AND BESS was where he first realized how important sound effects were to the making of a cast album (notably the fight between Crown and Robbins in the first scene) and he brought those same ideas to the SWEENEY TODD cast album. It is an outstanding example of how a good cast album producer can bring vivid theatricality to a studio made recording. Sheppard won a Grammy for that album...and deservedly so.

Cast albums are NOT "soundtracks."
Live theatre does not use a "soundtrack." If it did, it wouldn't be live theatre!

I host a weekly one-hour radio program featuring cast album selections as well as songs by cabaret, jazz and theatre artists. The program, FRONT ROW CENTRE is heard Sundays 9 to 10 am and also Saturdays from 8 to 9 am (eastern times) on www.proudfm.com

ChairinMain
Featured Actor
joined:4/2/07
Sweeney Todd OCR Question
Posted: 9/12/13 at 02:16am
Here's what Thomas Shepperd has to say about recording the Johanna Quartet when he was interviewed during the Wall to wall Sondheim event a few years ago:

"[The Johanna Quartet] is a great number, in which Sweeney Todd is trying out, for real, his new barber chair, and he's singing very very lyrically and it's very lovely. The orchestra, which I recorded very symphonically for that, not so much in your face show business, the orchestra is doing a kind of neutral vamp, Sweeney is at his new chair, he's fantasizing about his daughter. Meanwhile, in the back, in another aural plane, Anthony is reprising "I'll steal you Johanna" and Johanna is rather nervously reprising "You said you'd marry on sunday"...

In real life it's only four people standing in front of microphones in a studio, but we do everything we can to disguise that fact. So Johanna is running across the stereo stage, the beggar woman is panhandling somewhere in the distance, each new customer who comes into the barbershop rings the bell, they then take footsteps into the barber chair, they sit down, and then the spotlight - aurally, the spotlight falls on the chair, the loudest thing you hear is the chair. It's loud, it's crass. The handle goes, the body shoots horizontally because - well it's called a horizontal laundry shoot, because they're no verticality on a recording. When Sweeney slits the throat, the body travels right to left and then plops. I bring it to your attention...because I think it was a wonderful way to recreate the spirit if not the letter of how it was staged by Hal Prince."
frontrowcentre2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/20/05
Sweeney Todd OCR Question
Posted: 9/13/13 at 11:26am
He forgets to mention that they have one extra murder on the recording that is NOT in the show: The final customer arrives with his young daughter in tow and Sweeney can't slash the guy's throat with her there so he shaves the customer who pays and departs. On teh record the sound-effect indicates that He too is killed (the daughter has no lines so her presence is not noted on the record.)

Cast albums are NOT "soundtracks."
Live theatre does not use a "soundtrack." If it did, it wouldn't be live theatre!

I host a weekly one-hour radio program featuring cast album selections as well as songs by cabaret, jazz and theatre artists. The program, FRONT ROW CENTRE is heard Sundays 9 to 10 am and also Saturdays from 8 to 9 am (eastern times) on www.proudfm.com

g.d.e.l.g.i.
Broadway Star
joined:6/13/12
Sweeney Todd OCR Question
Posted: 9/13/13 at 12:05pm
^ I believe he mentioned in Zadan's Sondheim and Company that he liked the effect so much he just slotted in one more murder on the recording, but it does make sense to throw in given you can't see the wife and kid on a record or CD.
Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, FindingNamo, david_fick, emlodik
Brian07663NJ
Broadway Legend
joined:6/21/06
Sweeney Todd OCR Question
Posted: 9/13/13 at 12:26pm
OMG Frontrow! I have been listening to this recording of Sweeney (loving it) and never thought to count the deaths! Of course the guy with the kid lives but I never thought about that final kill! Fantastic bit of trivia - THANKS!
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