The new Broadway staging of the musical, which began previews Oct. 3 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre and opened Nov. 3, played 349 performances and 35 previews. Director Doyle as well as orchestrator Sarah Travis took home 2006 Tony Awards for their work.
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 on a stage assembled of wooden planks, ten actor-musicians re-create the characters and events of Victorian era Fleet Street.
The Sondheim score (with the book by Hugh Wheeler from a Christopher Bond adaptation) is performed (in full view of the audience) by the acting company, who play instruments ranging from tuba, trumpet and clarinet to cello, accordion and bass.
Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris (Assassins) starred as the title barber opposite Tony Award winner Patti LuPone (Evita) as the lovable meatpie-maker Mrs. Lovett—the actress' first Broadway musical role in 17 years. Tony winner Judy Kaye (The Phantom of the Opera) filled in for LuPone for some performances.
Cerveris and LuPone are joined in the production 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). Cerveris, Lupone and Felciano were nominated for Tony Awards. Merwin Foard, Benjamin Eakeley, Elisa Winter, David Hess, Stephen McIntyre and Jessica Wright served as standbys.
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.
Produced by Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, and the Ambassador Theatre Group, Adam Kenwright & Tulchin/Bartner/Bagert, Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street recouped its initial $3.5 million investment in 19 weeks. The cast recording is available through Nonesuch Records.
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."
The forthcoming national tour is slated for an end-of-summer 2007 start.
Director Doyle previously mentioned the possibility of the show touring, noting casting would perhaps not be a concern. "It's so interesting how many people who have come out of the woodwork who can suddenly [act, sing and play an instrument]."
"What's exciting about it, though, is it means that the kind of performer that gets to be part of the work might not get cast in a production [like this] under other circumstances. Yet, [this theatrical technique] allows you to go against type — whatever that means — because types don't carry trombones."
The announcement of Sweeney Todd's departure left a Broadway house open to many suitors. Atlantic Theater Company's recent Off-Broadway musical staging of Spring Awakening by composer Duncan Sheik and librettist-lyricist Steven Sater has already laid claim to the venue with a starting date of Nov. 17.
Sweeney Todd performs at the Eugene O'Neill, located at 230 West 49 Street. For more information, visit www.sweeneytoddonbroadway.com.