The New York Philharmonic has announced additional casting for its three concert performances of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. Scheduled for May 4-6 at Avery Fisher Hall and timed to commemorate the composer's 70th birthday, the Sweeney Todd performances will star Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald and Bryn Terfel as well as John Aler, Davis Gaines, Heidi Grant Murphy, Neil Patrick Harris, Stanford Olsen and Paul Plishka.
Sondheim's Sweeney is based on playwright Christopher Bond’s stage thriller Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The music and lyrics for Sweeney are by Stephen Sondheim and the book is by Hugh Wheeler.
Adapted by Christopher Bond and originally directed by Harold Prince, the Philharmonic performances of Sweeney will be directed by Lonny Price and conducted by Andrew Litton. The New York Choral Artists will also participate in the program.
Production notes indicate that Sondheim is "flattered and delighted by the plans for Sweeney Todd," and that the May 4 opening night concert will be followed by a gala dinner dance.
In 1979 director Harold Prince helmed the launch of Sweeney Todd’s Broadway run, which starred Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury taking the roles of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett. The New York Philharmonic performed a successful concert version of Sondheim's Follies in 1985 at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. That performance, which was recorded for RCA and produced by Thomas Z. Shephard, featured Barbara Cook, Carol Burnett, Lee Remick, Mandy Patinkin and Elaine Stritch. The Philharmonic’s four-year American Classics program comes to a close with the Sweeney Todd performances. On a seasonal basis, the Philharmonic focused on symphonies in '96-'97, vocal works and shorter orchestral pieces in '97-'98, concertos in '98-'99 and then the '99-'00 American Classics repertoire, which featured music from film, theater, opera, and dance under the banner of the recent Completely Copland Festival, Kurt Weill’s Centennial Celebration and performances of Bernstein’s "Suite from A Quiet Place. "
Concert tickets range from $75 - $250. On May 4, there is a gala ticket covering a pre-concert reception, the concert itself and a post-concert dinner with the artists. Gala prices range from $1,000 - $2,500 and are available at (212) 875-5757. Avery Fisher Hall is located in Lincoln Center. The New York Philharmonic’s 24-hour hotline, (212) 875-5709, provides information on these and other Philharmonic programs. For tickets call Centercharge at (212) 721-6500 or visit newyorkphilharmonic.org.
-- By Murdoch McBride