Fresh Blood: A New Sweeney Todd with Cerveris and LuPone Opens on Broadway, Nov. 3

News   Fresh Blood: A New Sweeney Todd with Cerveris and LuPone Opens on Broadway, Nov. 3 Blood pours in bucketfuls as Benjamin Barker returns to London for vengeance in the new unique revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which opens on Broadway Nov. 3.

Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone in Sweeney Todd.
Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone in Sweeney Todd. Photo by Paul Kolnik

John Doyle, who staged the original London run, directs the musical which began on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Oct. 3.

In a new conceptual take on the vengeful barber, the tale of Sweeney Todd is retold in the confines of an asylum where a distraught Tobias Ragg is locked up. Using only nine chairs, a ladder, and a coffin on two wooden horses upon a stage assembled of long wooden planks, ten actor-musicians recreate the characters and events on Fleet Street.

The Sondheim score (with the book by Hugh Wheeler from a Christopher Bond adaptation) is performed in full view by the ensemble on instruments ranging from tuba, trumpet and clarinet to cello, accordion and bass in addition to their acting and singing duties.

Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris (Assassins) stars in the title role opposite Tony Award winner Patti LuPone (Evita) as the lovable meatpie-maker Mrs. Lovett — her first Broadway musical role in 17 years.

Cerveris and LuPone are joined by John Arbo (musician on Good Vibrations) as Jonas Fogg, Donna Lynne Champlin (Hollywood Arms, James Joyce's The Dead) as Pirelli, Manoel Felciano (Shockheaded Peter, Brooklyn) as Tobias Ragg, Alexander Gemignani (Assassins) as The Beadle, Mark Jacoby ( Man of La Mancha, Show Boat) as Judge Turpin and Broadway newcomers Diana DiMarzio (as Beggar Woman), Benjamin Magnuson (as Anthony Hope) and Lauren Molina (as Johanna). The instrument assignment is as follows: The Beadle - keyboard/trumpet, Beggar Woman - clarinet, Anthony - cello/ keyboard, Johanna - cello/penny whistle, Jonas Fogg - bass, Tobias - violin/clarinet/keyboard, Pirelli - accordion/keyboard/flute, Judge Turpin - trumpet/orchestra bells/ percussion, Mrs. Lovett- tuba/orchestra bells/ percussion and Sweeney Todd - guitar/orchestra bells/percussion.

A Best Actress (Musical) Tony Award winner for her turn in Evita, LuPone was last seen in a musical on Broadway (ironically as Reno Sweeney) in the 1988 revival of Anything Goes — for which she was Tony-nominated. The actress has remained in the New York spotlight with appearances in the New York Philharmonic's Candide concert, the City Center Encores! run of Cole Porter's Can-Can, as well as non-musical turn for Broadway’s Noises Off, The Old Neighborhood, Master Class and her concerts Patti LuPone on Broadway and Matters of the Heart.

Cerveris won a Tony Award for his turn as Booth in the 2004 revival of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins. The actor has appeared Off-Broadway in Wintertime and Fifth of July and also earned a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway debut as the title role in The Who's Tommy. Other stage credits include Passion, Titanic and the title role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch, Marc Routh and Richard Frankel present Sweeney Todd with the Ambassador Theatre Group (which co-produced the run with The Watermill Theatre at the West End's New Ambassador Theatre), Adam Kenwright & Tulchin/Bartner/Bagert Productions for the new Broadway staging.

Director Doyle provides his own scenic and costume design with a creative team that also features Richard G. Jones (lighting), Dan Moses Schreier (sound), Paul Huntley (hair and wig). David Loud serves as resident music supervisor, John Miller is music coordinator. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Sarah Travis.

Nonesuch — the company that has previously released Sondheim's Saturday Night, The Frogs/Evening Primrose, Into The Woods and Bounce — will put forth the new cast recording for the production. Details and dates are forthcoming.

The songlist includes "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd," "No Place Like London," "The Barber and His Wife," "The Worst Pies in London," "Poor Thing," "My Friends," "Green Finch and Linnet Bird," "Ah, Miss," "Johanna," "Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir," "The Contest," "Wait," "Kiss Me," "Ladies in Their Sensitivities," "Quartet," "Pretty Women," "Epiphany," "A Little Priest," "God, That’s Good!," "Johanna," "By the Sea," "Not While I’m Around," "Parlor Songs," "City on Fire!," "Final Sequence" and "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd."

Sweeney Todd made its Broadway debut Feb. 6, 1979 starring Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury — both earned Tony Awards for their turns. Harold Prince directed the 1979 Tony Award winner for Best Musical. (Take a look inside the original Playbill with the Playbill Archives feature.) In 1989, an intimate, smaller-cast revival of Sweeney Todd was produced on Broadway and Tony Award nominated for Best Revival. Susan H. Schulman directed stars Bob Gunton (as Sweeney) and Beth Fowler (as Mrs. Lovett). The work was also recently seen in Washington, D.C. as part of the Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration with stars Brian Stokes Mitchell and Christine Baranski.

 

Tickets for Sweeney Todd at the Eugene O'Neill, 230 West 49 St. are on sale by calling (212) 239-6200 or via the link below. For more information, visit www.sweeneytoddonbroadway.com.

The company of <i>Sweeney Todd</i>.
The company of Sweeney Todd. Photo by Paul Kolnik
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