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(Sorry, another "Sweeney" post): Sondheim publicly comments on the revival

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The Distinctive Baritone
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"When I first wrote this thing all I wanted to do was write a horror story, a Grand Guignol piece. Of all the productions I've seen, this is the one that comes closest to Grand Guignol, closest to what I originally wanted to do." --Stephen Sondheim

Interesting...

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/30/theater/newsandfeatures/30ish.html
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ljay889
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Wow! I think that says a lot.

I wonder what Hal would think of that comment. lol.
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In almost every theater history book I've read, when the subject of the original production of "Sweeney" comes up, it almost always talks about how Prince and Sondheim clashed on their "visions" of the piece. Of course, I personally think the original production (at least the video version) is just about perfect. I'm very excited to see the revival though.
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Yeah... Prince was worried about the strength of the piece and just threw gobs of money at it (Prince admits this now). Interesting that Sondheim now prefers the "cheapness" of this production.
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"When I first wrote this thing all I wanted to do was write a horror story, a Grand Guignol piece. Of all the productions I've seen, this is the one that comes closest to Grand Guignol, closest to what I originally wanted to do." --Stephen Sondheim

That's all fine and dandy but I wonder if his original vision also had such a small orchestra?


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I doubt it, but like he said, overall it comes the closest. I was entralled every second. Except I hated the moment with sweeney and anthony during the boat scene cause I was used to the old way and felt this one was weak, but once it ended I loved everything after, and before too
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Prince did much more than just throw money at the original production. While he admitted that the show made him nervous, and the Broadway production's gargantuan set, suggesting the dehumanization of man during the Industrial Revolution was his way in to the material, he also took a very risky property and gave it a supremely confident, audacious production. It's terrific that the work is being reinterpreted, but I thought the article was somewhat dismissive of that original production, and a man that helped a great deal in making it work in the first place. There's an inference that if you stage Sweeney with a full set, period costumes and a 27-piece orchestra, you are somehow depriving an audience of an imaginative evening in the theatre.
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Updated On: 10/29/05 at 06:08 PM
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The Distinctive Baritone
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Smaxie--

I agree that the article is a bit dismissive of the original production, but Sondheim did make a point of saying that he liked Hal Prince's version too (and I'm glad they printed that, otherwise the article could have seemed like a bit of a slap in the face to Prince).
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This is why theatre is a wonderful collaboration, and directors do what THEY do, and composers do what THEY do.

I'm glad Sondheim is a composer... not a director.
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It still felt like a backhanded compliment. (Sondheim's comment is that he enjoyed the Hal Prince production for its spectacle). I came out of reading the story feeling like the NY Times is making me out to be an intellectual clod for liking Prince's production.

And that feature article is clearly a set-up for a Ben Brantley rave to come (not surprising, given that Brantley loved the London version). The NY Times loves to do that kind of annointment and benediction in their feature coverage and theatre reviews.
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Updated On: 10/29/05 at 06:35 PM
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"I'm glad Sondheim is a composer... not a director. "

Having watched him, he makes a very good director.
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Sondheim, in fact, does do some directing (though he probably wouldn't call it that) in that he is very involved with making the actors comfortable with his lyrics and with helping them to find the voice.

He has also spent a lot of time analyzing what works in film and has a keen eye for great vision whether on stage or on screen.
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