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Sweeney Todd- The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
a Thriller
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA MUSICAL
by Stephen Sondheim

COMPANY : Broadway Across America [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Fabulous Fox [WEBSITE]
ID# 2803

SHOWING : May 27, 2008 - June 01, 2008

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

A Malicious Barber, Sweeney Todd, seeks revenge on Judge Turpin for wronging him years before.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director John Doyle
Tobias Edmund Bagnell
Judge Turpin Keith Buterbaugh
The Beadle Benjamin Eakeley
Sweeney Todd David Hess
Mrs. Lovett Judy Kaye
Anthony Benjamin Magnuson
Johanna Lauren Molina
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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A reinvisioning gone wrong
by ATL_Theatre_Critique
Sunday, April 1, 2012
2.0
This particular production of Sweeney Todd was a minimalistic reinvisioning of the original work based on the dual-performance technique of actor and musician. While I respect the idea of looking at it through a different performance lens, I cannot say I enjoyed it.

The lack of acting, the lack of orchestra, the lack of costume, set, and props...really detract from Sweeney. I have seen it staged and many video adaptations of it, and this just was not my idea of a good concept. Had I known the premise was not to display Sweeney Todd but rather to reimagine it to some sort of minimalist, low-budget actor/musician dual role, I would not have spent the large amount of money to travel to see it. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Eh.
by TheaterColin
Friday, October 3, 2008
2.5
I've decided to revise this review after I've thought alot about this show lately.

I recently watched the DVD version with Angela Landsbury as Mrs. Lovett, and I found it amazing! MUCH better than this production at the fox. In BWAY across America's recent production,Toby and Antony were the only performances I enjoyed. Having the characters play instruments just did not work for me, and the show was very bland, even with having 13th row seats (or something like that).

I gave it a 4.5 on my original review, which I dont know why. But now that I think about it, I found the show to be incredibly boring. Singing wasnt too amazing, and acting was boring...

So I just felt like revising that review, because my opinions have changed on it.
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From a Distance
by Dedalus
Friday, June 13, 2008
3.0
This may sound like sacrilege to many, but I have never liked the “Fabulous Fox” as a theatrical venue. Its sheer size precludes any direct emotional interaction between performer and audience, its sound system (or engineering staff) is notoriously awful, and, on a personal note, I hate not having enough light to read my program before a show.

Which brings me to Broadway Across America’s tour of the recent Broadway revival of “Sweeney Todd.” This is a small and intimate reading of the musical (one of my all-time favorites, by the way), filled with inventive ideas (both good and bad). But it should never be allowed in a venue that seats more than 300 (if that).

My wife and I had subscription seats in the first balcony, and we both felt like we were watching this show through the wrong end of a telescope. Faces were indistinguishable, prop business was invisible (what was Mrs. Lovett “cleaning” during “By the Sea,” and exactly what was that stuff highlighted on the back wall during “Green Finch and Linnet Bird?”). For the record, with the similarity in costuming, I found it difficult to distinguish Sweeney, the Judge, and the Beadle. Also, for the record, with the distance from the stage, “Epiphany” and “Pretty Women” were pretty much drained of all tension, and all effect. The fact that the set took up only a small portion of the cavernous stage should have clued someone in that more than half the audience would be left in the cold.

But still, this was “Sweeney Todd.” Sondheim’s glorious score was on full display (if made irritatingly tinny by the sound crew). The cast was filled with top-notch singers and musicians, and, even those of us “in the cheap seats” (actually, not so cheap) could relish its scope and artistry. By the final moments, I was almost won over to the show (which is not to say I wouldn’t have loved it all if I had been sitting closer).

Director John Doyle’s actor/musician concept isn’t quite is seamless here as it was in the recent “Company” telecast. I liked the asylum framing device, the reduction in cast size, the imaginative use of casket and props (although, for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what that white thing Sweeney carried for the chair sequence in “God That’s Good” was supposed to represent). The instruments, though, weren’t as fully integrated into the concept. In addition, too much of the score relied on the journeyman pianist, the tempos were all slower than what I’ve come to expect (which is WHY a conductor is necessary), and Judy Kaye’s tuba blats were distracting and, to me, downright embarrassing.

From a distance, the acting seemed negligible, though I enjoyed Judy Kaye’s Mrs. Lovett (tuba notwithstanding), Diana DiMarzio’s Beggar Woman, Edmund Bagnell’s Tobias, and Lauren Molina’s Johanna. Ms. Molina’s manic quality seemed to me a well-chosen nod to the asylum framing device, and her almost schizophrenic deliveries added levels of irony that worked very well for me. And, she seemed the only one to use her instrument – the cello – in a character-driven manner.

On the downside, I found David Hess the least compelling Sweeney I’ve ever seen. He didn’t seem vindictive, or threatened, or larger-than-life. To me he just seemed whiny and petulant. Of course, my reaction could very easily be another product of the “distance” factor. Like others, I found Benjamin Eakeley’s Beadle easily forgettable, but I had no problem with casting a woman as Pirelli – it didn’t especially add anything to the role (Katrina Yaukey was fine), but it didn’t take anything away, and it left a balanced 5-man, 5-woman ensemble for the choral segments.

Just to digress for an ironic observation, Tim Burton’s movie of this show (which I loved) featured actors rather than singers, but it backed them up with a lush and large Hollywood orchestra. Here, the casting focused on musicianship more than acting, but backed them up with a piano and a few snippets of onstage orchestral fill. The interesting thing is, different moments become memorable under either choice, different weaknesses are endured (or overlooked), but the overall effect is surprisingly similar. Well, no it isn’t, but my emotional reaction was surprisingly similar.

So, it should be apparent that I don’t find the Fox so “fabulous.” But it’s one of the few places we can see direct transfers of shows from Broadway. Considering that few (if any) Broadway venues are as vast as the Fox, we should probably ask ourselves, are we really having a “Broadway Experience,” or are we just watching a pale copy “from a distance?”

You can probably guess my answer.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)



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Seating (for what it's worth) by bellsplayer
This production of Sweeney Todd played on Broadway in the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, which seats approximately 1,108. All 'Broadway' theaters must seat 500 or more. Among the largest currently running is the Gershwin (Wicked) which seats 1,935 and among the smallest is the Helen Hayes (Xanadu) at about 597. By contrast, the maximum seating for the Fox is 4,678 and Radio City Music hall is around 6,000.

(Sources: IBDB for Broadway info, foxtheatre.org and radiocity.com.)

JD
your rating was generous by tgillesp
I agree that the show was staged for a much smaller venue and suffered greatly at the Fox. I was seated in Row E of the orchestra level, but at far house right (the furthest right seating section wasn't being used at all, so I wasn't at the wall) and my sight lines were consistently blocked by actors standing around. The re-use of simple set pieces would have been horribly confusing to me if I wasn't already familiar with the story... but the individual performances were virtuoso, given the instrumental requirements.
I agree by TheaterColin
The Fox is not a good venue for most shows. Atlanta needs another theater about 4 times as small as the fox! Like the normal size of a broadway Theatre. But the Fox is great for some shows, I attended High School Musical a year ago at the Fox, and it was great. The venue really suited it. Big sets, big singing, and it was just great. And i was sitting at the back of the orchestra. I was sitting 20 rows back for Sweeney, but I still had a tough time seeing a lot of the facial expressons... I did notice that the lighting was nothing special. Usually for most shows at the Fox, the tours bring their own lighting and use the Fox's lighting in addition to their own specialty lighting. The Lighting for Sweeney was disappointing and bland.

As for you not being able to see certain props, in Green Finch and Linnett Bird, the objects lighted up on the wall were a fake bird and a cross (don't know what the cross was for, but the bird made sense to me). And during By The Sea, mrs. lovett was cleaning the items they used to saw the bodies up.

I found the tuba used by Judy Kaye very comedic, it was funny that the instrument wasn't needed, but out she came with a giant tuba playing a few notes.


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