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Cerveris Confirmed, and LuPone Expected as Sweeney Todd Revival Stars

Reported first here on BroadwayWorld.com on April 5, 2005 in the Broadway Pulse, Tony-Winner Michael Cerveris is now confirmed for the title role in the revival of Sweeney Todd. News is swirling around Broadway today that his co-star will be none other than Patti LuPone making her long-awaited return to the Broadway stage. At the moment, the only official casting confirmation is for Michael Cerveris, but sources say an announcement regarding Mrs. Lovett is expected imminently. As covered here this weekend, newcomer Ben Magnuson has been cast as Anthony, and word has it that Mark Jacoby will play the judge.

The epochal horror musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler is scheduled to begin previews on October 3, with a November 3rd opening night at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. The production, which was re-conceptualized by director-designer John Doyle, was a much-acclaimed smash at London's Watermill Theatre in the fall of 2004 and successfully transferred to the West End's Trafalgar Studios. Doyle's scaled-down SweeneyTodd famously featured the Demon Barber, his meat pie-baking accomplice Mrs. Lovett and other characters playing instruments. Doyle will also direct the Broadway production.

Michael Cerveris most recently appeared as Giorgio in the Lincoln Center production of Stephen Sondheim's Passion, appearing opposite Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald. Cerveris was a 2004 Tony winner for his performance as John Wilkes Booth in the Roundabout Theatre production of Assassins. Other credits include Wintertime, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Titanic and The Who's Tommy.

LuPone, who has been one of Broadway's foremost leading ladies since her star-making turn in 1979's Evita, has been well-regarded in recent years as an interpreter of Sondheim's works. She has played Mrs. Lovett in a concert production of Sweeney Todd that was presented by the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony and the Ravinia Festival in Illionois; the San Francisco concert is preserved on DVD. LuPone has also appeared in A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George and Passion at Ravinia. She recently reprised her performance as Fosca in the latter show at Lincoln Center, and also sang Sweeney's "A Little Priest" with George Hearn for Sondheim's 75th birthday tribute benefit, Children and Art.. It was recently announced that LuPone will return to Ravinia on August 26th to play the scheming mayoress Cora in Anyone Can Whistle alongside Audra McDonald and Michael Cerveris.

LuPone, who graduated from Julliard and was a member of John Houseman's famed Acting Company in the '70s, has not appeared on Broadway since the 2001 revival of Noises Off. In the meantime, she has appeared in cabaret venues and concert productions at Ravinia, Encores! and elsewhere; she won raves for her performance in Encores' 2004 Can-Can. Other Broadway credits include The Old Neighborhood, Master Class, Anything Goes, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Oliver!, Working, The Three Sisters, The Robber Bridegroom and The Beggar's Opera. Additionally, she originated the role of Fantine in the London production of Les Miserables, starred as Norma Desmond in the 1993 West End production of Sunset Boulevard (her last appearance in a fully-staged musical), and played Genevieve in the original production of The Baker's Wife, which closed on the road but has attained cult status in years since. She won a 1980 Best Actress in a Musical Tony for her performance in the title role of Evita, and was also nominated for Anything Goes in 1988 and The Robber Bridegroom in 1976. LuPone is also a noted screen actress, having appeared in such films as Summer of Sam and State and Main.

The original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd opened at the Uris Theatre on March 1, 1979 with Angela Lansbury, Len Cariou and Victor Garber as stars. The ingeniously staged production, which was the last of director Hal Prince's five great 70's collaborations with Stephen Sondheim, received 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical. A simplified production starring Bob Gunton and Beth Fowler ran at the Circle in the Square Theatre in 1989, and was dubbed Teeny Todd.


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