26 Songs, 1 Hour 28 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Too many revivals of Stephen Sondheim's murderous 1979 musical masterpiece have suffered from something akin to the operatic mumps, a tendency to inflate its Grand Guignol vision with too much pomp and not enough circumstance. But director John Doyle triumphs here by taking precisely the opposite approach, stripping down the musical elements and sharpening the drama of this 2005 Broadway revival (based on his more modest English production) with a wicked twist: It's now a show-within-a-show staged by the inmates of a lunatic asylum. Doyle's Marat/Sade-flavored dramatic conceit is further enhanced by a minimalist musical approach that virtually does away with the orchestra, with the actors now providing their own instrumental accompaniment. While that gambit is often more effective on stage than in is in on a recording, here stars Michael Cerveris (a guitar-strumming Sweeney) and an Patti LuPone (who reprises Mrs. Lovett from a more traditionally operatic 2000 revival by the New York Philharmonic while improbably toting the tuba here) inform the renewed, intensely personal focus of the show's drama and songs with a deliciously dark charisma.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Too many revivals of Stephen Sondheim's murderous 1979 musical masterpiece have suffered from something akin to the operatic mumps, a tendency to inflate its Grand Guignol vision with too much pomp and not enough circumstance. But director John Doyle triumphs here by taking precisely the opposite approach, stripping down the musical elements and sharpening the drama of this 2005 Broadway revival (based on his more modest English production) with a wicked twist: It's now a show-within-a-show staged by the inmates of a lunatic asylum. Doyle's Marat/Sade-flavored dramatic conceit is further enhanced by a minimalist musical approach that virtually does away with the orchestra, with the actors now providing their own instrumental accompaniment. While that gambit is often more effective on stage than in is in on a recording, here stars Michael Cerveris (a guitar-strumming Sweeney) and an Patti LuPone (who reprises Mrs. Lovett from a more traditionally operatic 2000 revival by the New York Philharmonic while improbably toting the tuba here) inform the renewed, intensely personal focus of the show's drama and songs with a deliciously dark charisma.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.1 out of 5
186 Ratings

186 Ratings

sweeneyandsondheim ,

umm.

I don't know what some of you are talking about. Sondheim was very involved in the process of this revival. He has even said himself this version of Sweeney is more true to his original vision. He originally visioned the show as a "small show." But we know how Hal Prince works.

So THIS is how Sondheim intended Sweeney to be. He has said it himself, people.

musicartadmin ,

Don't miss this (as a download -or- on Broadway)!!

If this reincarnation of SWEENEY TODD doesn't clean-up at the TONY™ AWARDS then we should demand a re-count! Without a doubt this is the most unusual and satisfying of ALL of the Sondheim Sweeney's! Aside from the remarkable re-scoring and rethinking of this tour-de-force musical, the musical performances are simply not to be missed. The singing (and instrumental performances) are amazing (the instrumental parts are completely memorized by the actors and actresses in the production save for a lone piano score upstage for the tag-team pianists). The great Patti LuPone is the miraculous EVIL antithesis of Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett and Michael Cerveris is a brooding and brilliant Sweeney. The end result of the rethinking of this show is a "chamber musical" the likes of which will probably never be seen or heard again on Broadway (special kudos to Sarah Travis for keeping all the brilliance of the Sondheim original in a masterfully re-imagined orchestration). While I sometimes miss the remarkable fullness of Sondheim's original score (I have played the 1st horn book of this show) the score and part reduction allows the lyrics to really jump out at the listener. I have seen SWEENEY somewhere around 15-20 times (original production, Circle-in-the-Square revival, NYC Opera stagings) and I find something new in every performance. This one is completely mind-blowing! If SWEENEY TODD is not the greatest musical of the 20th Century (WEST SIDE STORY is neck and neck, don't you think?) this recording certainly proves Stephen Sondheim's genius. This is a theatrical event that will long be remembered for its daring and unconventional ways. A TRIMUPH, A TREAT, AND AN EXPERIENCE NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN! We can only hope and pray that Mr. Sondheim, and the director/producers/actors in this production will allow for a historical filming of this production for the archives. I can't wait to see it again. Let the award ceremonies begin ...

kkurf ,

Outstanding Revival

While in NYC this past Christmas my partner and I were fortunate enough to see this outstanding revival. Since I had not had an opportunity to see the original I was not sure what to expect. The staging and incredible talent both vocally and instrumentaly by each performer was hypnotic. Patti LuPone was incredible as Mrs. Lovett and Michael Cerveris was very dark as Sweeney Todd. All of the other performers especially Manoel Felciano as Tobias made for a very tight ensemble. I recommend this new cast album to anyone who has either seen the original or is planning to see the revival. Kudos to a great cast and a great Sondheim classic

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