i love johnny depp, but…

8 Dec

(yes, i know it’s supposed to be new music monday, but i did not have a chance to record today since miss james went to the doctor and was out for the count all day long. this draft has been hanging out for a couple of weeks.)

i’m disappointed in “sweeney todd” the movie. “sweeney todd” is my favorite musical written by my one of my favorite composers, stephen sondheim.

i was in “sweeney todd” when i was in college at siu-c. our sweeney, michael lindner, was phenomenal. he did sweeney in chicago, too, and won a jeff (which is the tony’s of chicago.) he even rivaled the original sweeney, len cariou. he had a very engaging and nuanced performance. he was frightening, even, which is kinda funny since he is a teddy bear.

there are a few reasons i don’t like the movie:

1 – johnny depp is a beautiful human being and he can sing, but he’s not a musical theater voice. i expect a strong theater voice and he doesn’t have it.

2 – where’s the chorus? in musicals, the chorus is another character and in “sweeney todd” they are such a huge part of the story. it’s missing here, and it shows.

i was in the chorus and sang the alto part on the letter (which starts at 2:31):

-this video is with angela landsbury and george hearn.

3 – no whistle. the whistle is a loud, obnoxious, grating, and painful. it is symbolic of industrial london.

don’t get me wrong…tim burton’s treatment of the cinematic aspects was burton brilliance. the acting was great, it was just missing a few pieces for me.

on the other hand, i recently saw the national tour of “sweeney todd” with my mom. little did i know it would be the newer version by john doyle and not the original stage production.

it was interesting.

not boring.

a little distracting.

i’m a sweeney todd purist, so it was tough to get over the fact that there would be so much going on all at once. what i mean is that there is not an orchestra. the actors play all of the instruments. some of them play more than one. so that means that there are always 10 people on stage.

this also means that there is no change in scenery. and without the scenery changes, there is no chair. with no chair, the song, “johanna” from the second act. sweeney is singing this beautiful and haunting song while killing folks:

that is sweet when seen live. i can’t find the movie version, which happens to be my favorite part of the movie. pure burton genius. go watch it for that scene.

anyhoo – johanna’s hair is supposed to be yellow. they sing about it quite frequently and the actor who played johanna didn’t wear a wig. kind of weird to see them singing about her blond hair when she’s sporting long brown locks.

carrie cima played mrs. lovett and i mostly liked her. she had great timing, played a butt-load of instruments (including drum set and tuba,) and sang well for the most part. she lost me when she got to her higher register. her falsetto was thin and reedy where her lower notes were smoky and fully, crass and vibrant. and in her last scene she screeched, i mean screeched her notes. and the microphone picked it all up, and sent it straight to my ears where it drill teeny tiny holes in my eardrums. i could see the entire theater reacting (badly) to it. that said, she was good otherwise. i loved her short, wild, blond hair. her cute, sexy outfit were a great change from the frumpy mrs. lovett of old.

a couple more things, quickly…sweeney wasn’t mean enough, but he had a great voice. i didn’t like the judge too much, but he and sweeney sounded perfect together. all said, i liked it and was happy to have seen it, but would have much rather seen the original production.

to end it all here’s a taste of my favorite todd, len cariou singing with angela landsbury from stephen sondheim’s 75th anniversary gala. 30 years after they originated the roles.

gosh, i love them.


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