Original London SWEENEY

It is amazing what you can find on YouTube. It never ceases to amaze me. Today: two clips from the short-lived original London production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd Not the greatest quality, but interesting to see….

I rather like Sheila Hancock in the clip of “A Little Priest”, but Denis Quilley just doesn’t seem to have the fire of Len Cariou or George Hearn.

Andrew Wadsworth, who starts off singing the reprise of “Johanna” in the second clip sounds stunning – and what you can hear of Mandy More’s Johanna is also beautiful. I liked Quilley much better here, although there’s something not quite right about the rhythm of his throat-slitting. But that could just be because the closeness of the camera. I think he’s super in the finale when Sweeney and Lovett rise out of the stage to single the final ballad.

Some further browsing around reveals that the London production added “The Beggar Woman’s Lullaby” (which some say give the Beggar Woman’s true identity away too soon) and cut the “Parlor Songs” (which are loads of fun – “Sweet Polly Plunket” is a delightful little song). I wonder what this iteration of the original Harold Prince production was like. It only ran 157 performances, so clearly the Brits didn’t take to it….

Still, I think Prince did a fantastic job on that first production. Seeing it as recorded on the television broadcast of the 1982 US touring company was an experience that I found completely thrilling. People often criticize that TV filming because it’s a mere shadow of the brilliant original production. I get that – but if that’s the case, oh my goodness, what a brilliant shadow it is.

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