Michael Cerveris Will Be Sweeney Todd on Broadway; Performances Start Oct. 3

News   Michael Cerveris Will Be Sweeney Todd on Broadway; Performances Start Oct. 3
Michael Cerveris, who won a Tony Award for playing John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, will play another kind of killer when he takes on the title role in the coming Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, due to begin previews Oct. 3 at the O'Neill Theatre. Opening night is Nov. 3.

Michael Cerveris
Michael Cerveris Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Cerveris will perform opposite the Mrs. Lovett of Patti LuPone, according to sources close to the production. LuPone's casting has not been officially announced.

"It is premature to comment on the casting of Mrs. Lovett at this time," said a show spokesman.

The staging will mark the U.S. premiere of a London conceptual take on the material, which trimmed the cast to less than 10 and had the performers providing musical accompaniment.

LuPone previously played the part alongside George Hearn with the New York Philharmonic May 4-6, 2000, at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall.

The production will be something of a Broadway homecoming for LuPone. Though one of the few certifiable Broadway legends, she has not been the star of a fully produced musical since Anything Goes in the late '80s, and has not acted in any Broadway show of any kind since Noises Off in 2001. She has, however, done short-run concerts such as Matters of the Heart and appeared in one-night-only concert versions of Anything Goes and other shows. Earlier this year, she played Fosca opposite Cerveris' Giorgio in a conceptual concert staging of Sondheim's Passion, for Lincoln Center, which aired live on PBS. That production (March 30-April 1) was part of the Lincoln Center American Songbook season and was presented at the Time Warner Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall. They had also played an earlier Passion staging for the Ravinia Festival. Cerveris' Broadway credits include The Who's Tommy (Tony nomination, Theatre World Award, Grammy for Original Cast Album); Titanic: The Musical. In London's West End he starred in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (also Off-Broadway and Los Angeles). Off-Broadway credits include Wintertime (Second Stage and McCarter), Fifth of July (Signature), Total Eclipse (West Side Arts), Abingdon Square (premiere). He appeared in Passion at the Kennedy Center (opposite Judy Kuhn, in 2002) and the Ravinia Festival (opposite Patti LuPone) and A Little Night Music for Chicago Shakespeare Theater. As a songwriter and vocalist, he is heard on his debut album, "Dog Eared," is in stores now (www.cerveris.com).

Steven Baruch, Thomas Viertel, Marc Routh and Richard Frankel will co-present Sweeney Todd with Ambassadors Theatre Group (which recently co-produced a run with The Watermill Theatre at the West End's New Ambassador Theatre). Adam Kenwright and Maidstone Productions are also attached to present the production on Broadway.

Director John Doyle — who staged the earlier London run of this production — will rejoin musical director arranger Sarah Travis.

The unique staging casts actor-musicians to retell the story of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and the (mostly corrupt) community in 19th-century London. A cast of nine actors (with no ensemble) will be required to perform on instruments ranging from flute, glockenspiel, trumpet and clarinet to piano, cello, accordion and double bass.

The new staging of Sweeney Todd still uses the now-famous music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler, drawn from the adaptation by Christopher Bond. The story follows a vengeful barber named Sweeney Todd in Victorian England, and his neighbor, Mrs. Lovett, who owns a pie shop that has recently come into favor due to a surplus of meat.

The work 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. A 2002 revival of the work was seen in Washington, D.C. as part of the Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration with stars Brian Stokes Mitchell and Christine Baranski. Mitchell has gone on the record as wanting to play Todd on Broadway.

In 1989-90, an intimate, smaller-cast revival of Sweeney Todd was produced on Broadway by Circle in the Square Theatre. It was Tony Award-nominated for Best Revival. Also Tony nommed were director Susan H. Schulman, and Bob Gunton (as Sweeney) and Beth Fowler (as Mrs. Lovett).

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