After wrap tonight, I took Jen up to NYC to peep out the latest staging of Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” at the Eugene O’Neil theater on 49th. Anyone who’s seen “Jersey Girl” (all six of you) know what a “Todd”-fag I am, as the flick closes with a grade school rendition of “God, That’s Good!” – the show-stopping Act 2 starter from the grisly play about a vengeance-bent barber who cuts throats and sends the freshly dead below to the meat pie shop run by his partner in crime, Mrs. Lovett, who promptly serves them up as the best pies in London. Grim, fun stuff, this musical – as it has been since 1979.
But this current version of “Sweeney” is not my favorite incarnation of the production. I wasn’t a fan of the Becket-like approach to the normally grand guginol material. I didn’t dig on the actors doubling as the orchestra. I missed the upstairs/downstairs set and the fabled barber chair. I didn’t cotton to the actors not delivering their dialogue to one another, and instead casting their performances out at the audience. Maybe I’m revealing myself as a traditionalist, so mired in memory that he’s closed-minded to new ideas, but Doyle’s vision of “Todd” wasn’t my cup of tea. I guess I’m just an old fuddy-duddy, but it would seem the gushing NY Times reviewer and I saw two different shows (though this wouldn’t be the first time the Times and I didn’t see eye-to-eye; anyone remember their “Jersey Girl” review; makes my “Todd” review seem like a Joel Siegel-like rave).
That all being said, the cast was great (Patti LuPone’s Mrs. Lovett, while very different from Angela Lansbury’s, was still really enjoyable), and kudos to them all for pulling off the score while acting as well.
To me, more interesting than what was going on on stage that night was the fact that Angela Lansbury was sitting in the row ahead of me, five seats over. My heart went out to Patti LuPone: how nervewracking that must’ve been for the former “Evita” to be assayed by everyone’s favorite Cabot Cove-ian – the OG Nellie Lovett – as she brought to life her version of the beloved character in an already controversial mounting of the Sondheim classic! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t glance over in Mrs. Potts’ direction more than once during the show to see if she was as crestfallen as I was that the hallmarks of “Todd”s past weren’t in evidence (for the record, she seemed to dig on the show).
My God, all this theater talk! I’m such a gay man in denial, aren’t I?
Quickly! Must… fuck… beard…
WIFE! I meant WIFE!