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Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10- 10/24)

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Michael Bennett
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joined:3/16/05
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I've been incredibly lucky in being able to see this revival several times over the past week, and I thought it would be worth noting the changes that have been made from first preview one week ago to tonight. These thoughts are VERY random -- my apologies.

Tonight was the first performance that I have seen some major changes -- all notated below (along with some very minor ones).

* The show curtain is now being brought in at the end of each act. Gone are the "Brechtian exits" along with the business with Gemingani and the flashlight that opened ACT II.

* There have been two additional cuts made to the score ("The Beggar Woman's Lullabye" was heard for the first preview only) -- Pirelli's "to shave-a the face" section from the Contest and the brief "Now then my friend, now to your purpose" section right before "Pretty Woman" are both gone. Gone too are the cast vocal echos during the Judge's "Johanna" -- and bizarelly, Joanna no longer plays the tin flute during the "bum bums" before "Pretty Woman"

* Lots of new staging --

Toby now "enters" the Barber shop with Pirelli during the blackmailing.

Toby is now "locked" in the bake house and offstage during "Parlor Songs" in ACT 2.

"City on Fire" has been reblocked and reassigned vocally.

Sadly, one of the bits I loved -- when Pirelli holds up the bucket of blood in anticipation of Sweeney's first attempt on the Judge -- is gone.

Cerveris no longer plays "Not While I'm Around" on the ladder (now painted black) -- but off to the side.

All in all, I think the changes in direction are good and in the best interest of telling the story. A lot of it is much cleaner, even if some of my personal favorite bits are gone.

* Diana DiMarzio's Beggar Woman is I think being given some new direction (less Zombie -- more Merle Louise) and she's starting to really come alive.

*LuPone is continuing to find fascinating layers as Lovett. The entire cast just gets better and better. The face that continues to haunt me from this production is Donna Lynne Champlins. She is endlessly fascinating.


Audience response tonight is the best I've seen it (standing ovation immediately) and the theatre was sold out. A good sign for this ever fascinating production.







Updated On: 10/26/05 at 12:13 AM
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FOAnatic
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#1
Posted: 10/11/05 at 12:19am
Was "Mea Culpa" not in the first few previews? Because, when I saw it (10/8 @ 2pm) the Judge sang it, but it wasn't listed in the Playbill.

"I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about." - Oscar Wilde
Updated On: 10/11/05 at 12:19 AM
BSoBW2
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#2
Posted: 10/11/05 at 12:21am
I love "to shave-a the face"

I dunno why, but I do...
Isabella2
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joined:10/6/05
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#3
Posted: 10/11/05 at 12:22am
Oh, my goodness! That's really upsetting to me... a lot of that stuff, i really enjoyed, I can't believe they took it all away...

I really liked the business between the judge and beadle, the song that pirelli sings... Donna Lynne must be dissapointed. arg... i hope i can get really good seats for the next show. I plan on seeing it twice more.

And which parts of the beggar woman are you talking about?
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Michael Bennett
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#4
Posted: 10/11/05 at 12:23am
The judge's "Johanna" has been in it from the first preview but still isn't in the program.

"The Tooth Pulling" I think is cut from almost ALL productions of SWEENEY TODD -- it was never in this production.

And to clarify -- Pirelli is still a strong presence, they just cut that one verse from "The Contest."

And the Beggar Woman's changes are just character choices. She's a little more traditionaly crazy.

Updated On: 10/11/05 at 12:23 AM
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FOAnatic
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#5
Posted: 10/11/05 at 12:25am
How about the "to pull-a the tooth"?

That part of the contest wasn't in the show when I saw it. Was it there from the beginning?
"I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about." - Oscar Wilde
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smartpenguin78
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#6
Posted: 10/11/05 at 12:25am
Stop with the cuts, please. I know why they are doing it but still, stop with the cuts. The bucket of blood anticipation was great.
I agree the directoral changes are probably good in the long run, but no more score cuts.

I don't think the "tooth pulling" was ever in.

Poor Pirelli doesn't do much as a chacter without "pulla the tooth" but I loved Donna.
I'm back on Thursday.
I stand corrected, you are as vapid as they say.
Updated On: 10/11/05 at 12:25 AM
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Michael Bennett
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#7
Posted: 10/11/05 at 12:29am
I don't think the show is frozen. I think they are just playing around with some things. One of the reasons I wanted to start this thread. They have three more weeks of previews and I'm sure there will be other changes.

The only score cut that has bothered me is the "Now then my friends -- now to your purpose" -- "The Contest" and "Parlor Songs" have seen cuts made in many other productions. "The Contest" is actually a lot clearer when they just get down to business and do the damn shaving.
Updated On: 10/11/05 at 12:29 AM
Chrysanthemum62001
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#8
Posted: 10/11/05 at 12:31am
I am absolutely THRILLED beyond beleif to hear the ladder is now black. It was one of the main things that bothered me, but never mentioned it becuase I just assumed it was something they would get to.

As for Michael not playing "Not While I'm Around" on the ladder, this upsets me a great deal. I can understand why he's now sitting off to the side, but it was just so damn pretty when he wass sitting on the ladder.
"What a mystery this world. One day you love them and the next day you want to kill them a thousand times over." The Masked Bandit in THE FALL
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BreakingTheCircle07
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#9
Posted: 10/11/05 at 12:34am
Thank you all SO much for keeping us up to date on Sweeney. I would LOVE to come see it.
Variations on a Theme blog: http://panekattack.blogspot.com/
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Michael Bennett
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#10
Posted: 10/11/05 at 12:34am
I liked him on the ladder too, but now there is nothing to pull focus from Toby/Lovett -- the scene plays clearer.

I'm sure all the changes I noticed tonight were made to help clarify story or to keep the pace going. The show FLEW tonight, and like I said, I missed some of the clever bits that were cut, but the audience seemed to uniformly be more pleased.
Updated On: 10/11/05 at 12:34 AM
C is for Company
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#11
Posted: 10/11/05 at 12:34am
Im still so happy about seeing the first preview cause there are a lot of regrets that still haunt me in going to see shows or actually, not seeing them. But this makes me evermore proud that I went on its first day. I am still wondering though WHY are they so adament about cutting like everything out that never even posed a problem time-constraint wise. Like was there really a reason to cut out that verse for Pirelli? And was there ever a problem in keeping Sweeney actually intact without ----ing around with it? I never complained about its length before, the more in it I find the more there is in giving it real quality and depth. Im still thankful that Turpins Johanna was still in there that was a big surprise let alone the fact that it hasnt been cut yet, but I really wish they had the tooth pulling scene re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#12
Posted: 10/11/05 at 1:59am
I'm still pissed that lovett and sweeney's part in Pirelli's Miracle Elixir weren't in the show.
when ducks grow thumbs then maybe my opinion will change.
JasonGreen
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#13
Posted: 10/11/05 at 2:06am
Yes, I too missed Lovett and Sweeney's interjections during the Miracle Elixir. It also makes less sense when Pirelli says the line about "...my elixir is piss; who says this?" because, well, no one has.

There were some cuts that seemed weird, but the one I missed the most was the crescendo when Sweeney kills the Beggar Woman (recalling Epiphany's "And my Lucy lies in ashes" theme). I think that's very very important for the dramatic action.

However, I did like the production overall.
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#14
Posted: 10/11/05 at 2:12am
I'm very upset that they cut Pirelli holding the bucket up in anticipation of Sweeney's first stab at the Judge - I thought that was GREAT.

I'm glad they cut the crap before Act II.
"If you are going to do something, do it well. And leave something witchy." -Charlie Manson
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#15
Posted: 10/11/05 at 2:16am
Have to agree completely with munk.

Having never seen the show before, the anticipation with the bucket was quite dramatic and shocking for me.

Glad they painted the ladder black. I heard quite a few people chattering about that.

And yeah, the flashlight crap before act II needed to go.
"what have we learned? Don't smoke... don't do drugs and don't sing 'Defying Gravity'." -CATSNYRevival
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#16
Posted: 10/11/05 at 9:07am
Thank you so much for telling us the changes! I saw the first preview and I'm particularly glad that they changed how they enter and the curtain.

* The show curtain is now being brought in at the end of each act. Gone are the "Brechtian exits" along with the business with Gemingani and the flashlight that opened ACT II.*

Also, I am sorry to hear that they got rid of the anticpatory pouring of blood by Pirlli and that they got rid of Lovett and Sweeney's comments during "Miracle Elixir". Grrr. Oh well, I still LOVE the production!
Happy...Everything! Kaye Thompson
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Michael Bennett
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#17
Posted: 10/11/05 at 9:09am
Two other minor changes I just remembered:

Joanna's stabbing of Fog and Lovett's "Die...Die!" have been reblocked.
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#18
Posted: 10/11/05 at 9:48am
One has to assume every textural alteration, no matter how minor, has Sondheim's impimatur. He's famously protective, so these efforts to streamline must be endorsed.

I love the show, saw the original multiple times, and the Gunton/Fowler "Teeny" one and City Opera editions. But it's always been a tad long, and a bit repitative, though for fans, not problematically. So an edited, shorter SWEENEY might even be more vital in some ways. And the original -- as locked in a City Opera -- is always there for comparison.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#19
Posted: 10/11/05 at 10:41am
I disagree that the efforts to streamline "must be endorsed" just because Sondheim approved them, I fully understand WHY they are doing it, that doesn't mean I have to like it.

I will almost certainly like the show as much, if not more, I personally would prefer to hear the entire score.
The shortened version has more possibility to be enjoyed by greater numbers, and for that I am all for it, if this production can be a HIT I will give in to many personal objections for that to happen.
I stand corrected, you are as vapid as they say.
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MTVMANN
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#20
Posted: 10/11/05 at 10:46am
For those of you who have seen it, is the music satisfying? Is it working well? Also, how are the doing songs like the opening where all the characters sing......Who plays the music?
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Michael Bennett
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#21
Posted: 10/11/05 at 12:20pm
MTV -- the music, I think, is very satisfying. The orchestrations are reduced, but still musically rich. The cast play and sing often at the same time, and do both very well -- and that's simply how the opening is done. Cast is great at multitasking.
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#22
Posted: 10/11/05 at 3:31pm
Thanks! I guess since some of the instruments are not wind instuments that you can play and sing at the same time.
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#23
Posted: 10/11/05 at 5:29pm
Why do I live in Bloody amsterdam???????
Drewlb07
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re: Tracking changes to SWEENEY TODD (10/10)

#24
Posted: 10/11/05 at 6:21pm
Mr. Bennett, I was wondering how you have been seeing the show so many times??? Will it be easy for me to get tkts when I come? I don't wanna pay more than the sro, how much is the cheapist ticket on TKTS? THANKS!

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