Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Raw Nerve Touched: The Missed Opportunity of Sweeney Todd

I'm working on a book about Beer and one of the topics is Ale, which elicited a comment from my copy editor, and touched off some deep feelings I have about Sweeney Todd. I wrote about the movie in 2007, and some of those thoughts bubbled to the surface again today.

From: Jeff 
Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2010 5:45 PM
To: Brian
Subject: Ale and Meat Pies
You saw the Cariou Sweeney Todd, no?
Ever see Cerveris/Lupone or Depp?
 From: Brian
To: Jeff
Subject: RE: Ale and Meat Pies

Sadly no; no/yes.
I saw Dorothy Loudon and George Hearn. I have the Lupone/Hearn/NPH DVD. Hearn filled in for Bryn Terfel, whose chronic bad back made him unavailable. I saw the Lansbury/Hearn on VHS.
If you saw the Sondheim birthday tribute on PBS, Hearn has become the Bublé of Sweeneys. I mean that as a compliment. Hearn was/is an amazing artist at any age and killed at the birthday tribute. It was a privilege to see him in his prime.
I saw Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury on YouTube sing at a charity event in LA in the 2000s, where Cariou probably gave his last singing performance. Word on the street is that role killed his voice. What a way to go as Dean said.
Not crazy about paying four times as much to see ¼ as many performers playing cymbals between their knees while they sing and juggle. It’s the kind of thing that people convince themselves is good.
Depp: fantastic actor, craptastic singer. The director’s wife was awful. The gal who played Joanna—awful. Borat as Pirelli—very good. The kid playing the kid—novel idea to have a kid playing a kid. You don’t get a movie made of a musical unless you get Depp/Burton. Then you get a Burton movie, not Sondheim. If I recall the trailer, the music was second to the FX. It’s extortion. I hope to live long enough to see it done right on screen. Dream casting would have been Bryn Terfel and Bette Midler. We can only hope some 10-year-old is doing the grade school version and is vowing to do it right when he or she is all growed up.
Dorothy Loudon was one of those very talented people you’d see on TV in the 1960s, when you could turn on a talk/variety show after school and see Count Basie rap with Mike Douglas or Robert Q. Lewis. It was the golden age of free TV.

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