Sweeney Todd [Original Broadway Cast] [Bonus Tracks]

Sweeney Todd [Original Broadway Cast] [Bonus Tracks]

CD(Remastered / Bonus Tracks)

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Having adapted Ingmar Bergman to the musical theater with A Little Night Music (1973), then traveled to Japan with Admiral Perry in Pacific Overtures (1976), composer Stephen Sondheim remained in the 19th century for his next Broadway musical, Sweeney Todd. It was arguably his most ambitious work yet, and one of his most controversial. For its subject matter, the show looked to Christopher Bond's 1973 play, itself based on the 1847 melodrama The String of Pearls by George Dibdin Pitt. The story concerns a London barber unjustly exiled so that an evil judge can have his way with the barber's wife. Years later, the barber returns, maddened with a desire for revenge, to begin slicing the throats of his customers on his way to killing the judge. As if that weren't enough, he allows his neighbor to cook the remains into meat pies. It's Grand Guignol, of course, and, accompanying the script by Hugh Wheeler, Sondheim wrote an extensive score that did not stint on the horrific aspects, even as it was full of lavish music and lovely melodies, with the two sometimes placed in ironic juxtaposition. For example, in the third of three different songs called "Johanna," Todd sings movingly of his love for his daughter while dispatching a series of victims with his razor. To say that the work requires a sense of gallows humor is an understatement. One of the wittiest numbers, "A Little Priest," finds Todd and his neighbor, Mrs. Lovett, comparing the qualities of various types of people as potential meals. Todd's mad outlook is best expressed in one of Sondheim's typically sharp couplets: "The lives of the wicked should be made brief/For the rest of us, death will be a relief." His conclusion: "We all deserve to die." Of course, Shakespeare was known to litter the stage with corpses, too, on occasion, but Sondheim and Wheeler were deliberately using an extreme genre to make points about the Industrial Revolution and, God help us, the world in general. They were assisted by an outstanding cast in the initial Broadway production, with Len Cariou expressing Todd's darkness and fatalistic humor, while Angela Lansbury, employing a broad Cockney accent, lent Mrs. Lovett a ghastly mirth. Along with the other performers, they managed the never-easy task of getting out Sondheim's often wordy lyrics and making the jokes land along with the more moving passages. Sweeney Todd was the closest Sondheim had yet come to an outright opera, and this first recording, even with a limited orchestra, gave a sense that it might prove his most lasting work. The opera connection becomes overt in the two bonus tracks added to the 2007 reissue, both taken from Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall, an album based on a 1992 benefit concert. In "Symphonic Sondheim: Sweeney Todd," with an orchestration by Don Sebesky, themes from Sweeney Todd are intermingled with a performance of the first "Johanna" song (first line: "I feel you, Johanna") sung by tenor Jerry Hadley and "Pretty Women" by baritones Eugene Perry and Herbert Perry. Soprano Harolyn Blackwell then gives a sense of what "Green Finch and Linnet Bird" would sound like on an opera stage. (The brief hidden track that follows is one of the "Parlor Songs," rendered by a woman who sounds suspiciously like Julie Andrews).

Product Details

Release Date: 03/20/2007
Label: Rca
UPC: 0828766863925
catalogNumber: 68639
Rank: 4714

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jerry Hadley   Vocals
Len Cariou   Vocals
Victor Garber   Vocals
Marin Alsop   Track Performer
Julien Barber   Track Performer
John Beal   Track Performer
Joseph Bongiorno   Track Performer
George "Funky" Brown   Track Performer
Earl Chapin   Track Performer
Joyce Flissler   Track Performer
John Gale   Track Performer
Judy Geist   Track Performer
Paul Gemignani   Conductor,Musical Direction
Harry Glickman   Track Performer
Daryl Goldberg   Track Performer
Max Hollander   Concert Master
Batia Lieberman   Track Performer
Charles McCracken   Track Performer
Louann Montesi   Track Performer
John Moses   Track Performer
Harriet Orenstein   Track Performer
Eugene Perry   Vocals
Jim Pugh   Track Performer
Scott   Track Performer
Myra Segal   Track Performer
Wilmer Wise   Track Performer
Marilyn Wright   Track Performer
Harolyn Blackwell   Vocals
Angela Lansbury   Vocals
James Pugh   Track Performer
Julius Brand   Track Performer
Dean Plank   Track Performer
American Theatre Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Betsy Joslyn   Vocals
Robert Ousley   Vocals
Clay Fullum   Track Performer
Sidney Kaufman   Track Performer
Skip Harris   Vocals
Cris Groenendaal   Vocals
Morris Lefkowitz   Track Performer
Charles Millard   Track Performer
Nick Cerrato   Track Performer
Frank Kopyc   Vocals
Edmund Lyndeck   Vocals
Joaquín Romaguera   Vocals
Maggie Task   Vocals
Frederick King   Track Performer
Robert Ayers   Track Performer
Daniel Reed   Track Performer
Merle Louise   Vocals
Richard Warren Pugh   Vocals
Beth Schwartz   Track Performer
Carole Doscher   Vocals
Sarah Rice   Vocals
Jack Eric Williams   Vocals
Herbert Perry   Vocals
Lester Cantor   Track Performer
Seymour Benstock   Track Performer
Walter Charles   Vocals
Duane Bodin   Vocals
Nancy Eaton   Vocals
Richard San Filippo   Track Performer
Robert Henderson   Vocals
Nancy Killmer   Vocals
Jennie Hansen Koch   Track Performer
Raymond Kunicki   Track Performer
Spain Logue   Vocals
Giulio Ruggiero   Track Performer,Musician
Heather B. Withers   Vocals
Jack Eric Williams   Vocals
George Brown   Track Performer
Martha Ihde   Vocals
Sidney Kaufmann   Track Performer
Mary-Pat Green   Vocals
Jennie Hansen Koch   Track Performer
Richard San Filippo   Track Performer
Evalyn Steinbock   Track Performer
Robert Henderson   Vocals
Joe Bongiorno   Track Performer
Kenneth Jennings   Vocals
Ken Jennings   Vocals

Technical Credits

Stephen Sondheim   Composer,Lyricist
Didier C. Deutsch   Reissue Producer
Don Sebesky   Orchestration
Matthew Kelly   Tape Research
Jay David Saks   Producer
Jonathan Tunick   Orchestration
Harold Prince   Director
Thomas Z. Shepard   Producer
Darcy Proper   Reissue Producer
Anthony Salvatore   Engineer
Martha Swope   Cover Photo
Richard Jay-Alexander   Liner Notes
Roxanne Slimak   Art Direction
Glenn Korman   Tape Research
Glenn Kormann   Tape Research
Darcy M. Proper   Reissue Producer

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