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Sweeney Todd

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By Terry Armour | December 26, 2007
The first time Tim Burton saw the musical Sweeney Todd, he was an art student living in London. "The thing that kind of blew me away was just how bloody it was," Burton says. "The blood is a part of the story. I have seen other productions over the years where they tried to skimp on the blood, and those productions really seemed to lose something." Some 20 years later, when Burton had the opportunity to craft his own big-screen version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the last thing he wanted to do was skimp on the blood.
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By Mary Carole McCauley, The Baltimore Sun | October 21, 2010
Attention, adrenaline junkies: It's your time of year. Friday marks the beginning the teeth-rattling lead-up to Halloween, when creepy-crawly things lurk in every shadow, and the sound of someone — or something — scuffling through the leaves on dark nights can make even the boldest run for cover. Not that we mind being scared; in fact, we relish it. Folks of all ages tour haunted houses, deliberately walk through graveyards and throng to frightening films. Psychologists say the resulting chemical rush makes us feel stronger, swifter and more alert.
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ENTERTAINMENT
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,Theater Critic | November 5, 1993
On Halloween weekend, when most children were trick-or-treating and most adults were partying, the Musical Theatre Machine opened an appropriately grisly production of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical thriller, "Sweeney Todd," at the Spotligters.There's no question in this critic's mind that the Spotlighters was the most glorious -- and ghoulish -- place to be. Nor at this point can there be much doubt about the impressive abilities of MTM producer and director Todd Pearthree.Indeed, the bigger the challenge and the more complicated the material, the better Pearthree seems to get. And "Sweeney Todd" is certainly challenging and complicated.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,Special to The Baltimore Sun | September 27, 2009
Having garnered 55 prestigious Helen Hayes nominations for excellence in the Washington area, Toby's Dinner Theatre of Columbia now takes on perhaps its greatest musical challenge with Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street." Sondheim's tale of the vengeful barber's tale takes on greater intensity in Toby's in-the-round venue, where no patron sits more than 30 feet from the stage. Having seen this show at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts starring Angela Lansbury about 25 years ago, I found the more intimate version at Toby's better at depicting the human tragedy.
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By J. WYNN ROUSUCK and J. WYNN ROUSUCK,SUN THEATER CRITIC | December 18, 2005
NEW YORK -- When director Harold Prince staged the original production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street on Broadway in 1979, the shrieking factory whistles that punctuated each murder made you quake. When Center Stage produced the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical two seasons ago, the blood-spurting razors gave you the creeps. But in British director John Doyle's minimalist interpretation at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre, it's the music that gets to you. That's because nothing stands in the way of Sondheim's score in this ingenious Sweeney.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | May 14, 2002
Sweeney Todd is a musical that's supposed to give you the creeps. And, even if you've seen it before - even if you know every line - the Kennedy Center's production will make you shudder. Musically soaring and emotionally chilling, it marks a towering start to the four-month Sondheim Celebration. Composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim and librettist Hugh Wheeler based this 1979 musical on the legendary tale of a Victorian barber who slit the throats of his customers, who were then baked into meat pies.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | February 26, 2004
For many theatergoers, Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd has never been an easy show to swallow. It is, after all, a musical about cannibalism. One of its trickiest elements is to get audiences to care about the protagonists - a 19th-century barber, who slits the throats of his clients, and his accomplice, a baker who turns the victims into meat pies. At Center Stage, director Irene Lewis has cast a young, handsome Broadway actor named Joseph Mahowald as Todd. A homicidal barber may not be the most likable character, but in Mahowald's portrayal, there are glimmers of the decent man Todd was before he was grievously wronged.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | February 28, 2004
Sinister-looking tooth extractor." "Wicked-looking knife." So goes the 6 1/2 -page list of props for Center Stage's production of Sweeney Todd. And that's not to mention the razors (10 altogether) or the gallons of blood. "Lots of blood," in the words of Irene Lewis, director of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical, which runs through April 11. Subtitled "The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," the 1979 Tony Award-winning musical tells the macabre tale of a 19th-century barber, who, after being wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years, begins slashing his customers' throats as revenge against those who robbed him of his wife, daughter and livelihood.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | December 21, 2007
The eyes have it in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and they belong to Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Burton's ineluctably involving version of the Stephen Sondheim musical about the homicidal hair-trimmer of the title (Depp) - and the meat-pie-maker Mrs. Lovett (Carter) who comes up with the idea of using corpses as ingredients - plays each crucial action off the otherworldly orbs of his stars. The impact is hypnotic. The director and his screenwriter, John Logan, lop off the celebrated prologue and start right with Todd and the male ingenue Anthony Hope (Jamie Campbell Bower)
NEWS
By MARY JOHNSON and MARY JOHNSON,Special to The Sun | June 22, 2007
If an abundance of directing and performing talent predicts success, Annapolis Summer Garden's coming production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd will be a stunner. At a recent rehearsal I found James Gallagher, who has given a string of searing performances in Bay Theatre's Oleana and Betrayal and in Dignity Players' Dead Man Walking, on the other side of the footlights serving as consulting director. "This is my favorite musical, where the book and music are equally strong. It has all the dynamics," he said.
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By Mary Carole McCauley and Mary Carole McCauley,Sun theater critic | January 18, 2008
It's silly statuette time once again, and chances are that Sweeney Todd, which picked up a recent Golden Globe award for best film musical, will be heavily nominated for the Academy Awards. While I applaud director Tim Burton for having come up with a fresh approach, I question the wisdom of stripping Stephen Sondheim's 1979 musical masterpiece of elements that audiences have relished for nearly three decades. The music, the scathingly witty dialogue - in the film, it all takes a back seat to the Grand Guignol-style plot.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Karen Nitkin and Karen Nitkin,Special to The Sun | December 27, 2007
At the age of 26, Josh Lefkowitz has already written and performed two one-man shows about his life, and is bringing his newest work, Now What? to Center Stage on Wednesday through Jan. 20. Now What? -- which explores the performer's relationship with his girlfriend and his art -- is a sequel to Help Wanted: A Personal Search for Meaningful Employment at the Start of the 21st Century, his humorous take on his own job-hunting experiences. Lefkowitz, who will perform the 85-minute show without a script or even notes, described Now What?
FEATURES
By Terry Armour | December 26, 2007
The first time Tim Burton saw the musical Sweeney Todd, he was an art student living in London. "The thing that kind of blew me away was just how bloody it was," Burton says. "The blood is a part of the story. I have seen other productions over the years where they tried to skimp on the blood, and those productions really seemed to lose something." Some 20 years later, when Burton had the opportunity to craft his own big-screen version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the last thing he wanted to do was skimp on the blood.
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | December 21, 2007
The eyes have it in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and they belong to Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Burton's ineluctably involving version of the Stephen Sondheim musical about the homicidal hair-trimmer of the title (Depp) - and the meat-pie-maker Mrs. Lovett (Carter) who comes up with the idea of using corpses as ingredients - plays each crucial action off the otherworldly orbs of his stars. The impact is hypnotic. The director and his screenwriter, John Logan, lop off the celebrated prologue and start right with Todd and the male ingenue Anthony Hope (Jamie Campbell Bower)
FEATURES
December 14, 2007
Next Friday CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR -- (Universal Pictures) Mike Nichols directs this fact-based tale about a playboy congressman (Tom Hanks), a beautiful socialite (Julia Roberts) and a CIA agent (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who secretly pulled off one of the largest covert operations in U.S. history. JUNO -- (Fox Searchlight) Ellen Page is a pregnant teenager looking for the perfect parents to adopt her unborn child. She finds them in an affluent couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman).
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,Special to The Sun | July 6, 2007
Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, which is playing at the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, is a cut above the usual outdoor seasonal fare. Sondheim's musical tale of the 19th-century Demon Barber of Fleet Street, who returns to London for revenge after being unjustly exiled to an Australian prison by a villainous judge, mixes suspenseful drama with dark wit in a near-operatic score. In his program notes, ASGT director Ron Giddings explains that he is trying to return to the show's roots: Sondheim envisioned a small chamber piece before it became a big Broadway production.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,Special to The Baltimore Sun | September 27, 2009
Having garnered 55 prestigious Helen Hayes nominations for excellence in the Washington area, Toby's Dinner Theatre of Columbia now takes on perhaps its greatest musical challenge with Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street." Sondheim's tale of the vengeful barber's tale takes on greater intensity in Toby's in-the-round venue, where no patron sits more than 30 feet from the stage. Having seen this show at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts starring Angela Lansbury about 25 years ago, I found the more intimate version at Toby's better at depicting the human tragedy.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | May 6, 2004
J. Ernest Green added a large element of courage to his prodigious programming skills when he took on the formidable challenge of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd Saturday at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in a concert that featured eight soloists, the Annapolis Chorale and the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra. Often the province of opera companies, Sondheim's demanding work telling the story of Fleet Street's vengeful demon barber - whose victims ended up in Mrs. Lovett's meat pies - is not everyone's idea of entertaining musical theater.
NEWS
By MARY JOHNSON and MARY JOHNSON,Special to The Sun | June 22, 2007
If an abundance of directing and performing talent predicts success, Annapolis Summer Garden's coming production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd will be a stunner. At a recent rehearsal I found James Gallagher, who has given a string of searing performances in Bay Theatre's Oleana and Betrayal and in Dignity Players' Dead Man Walking, on the other side of the footlights serving as consulting director. "This is my favorite musical, where the book and music are equally strong. It has all the dynamics," he said.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,sun theater critic | January 11, 2007
When Josh Lefkowitz talks about Center Stage, he uses terms like "holy moment" and "the birthing of a writer." To be specific, the 25-year-old actor-turned-playwright is referring to something that happened three years ago, when he had a bit part -- basically "pushing scenery" -- in Center Stage's production of Sweeney Todd. Back then, he often visited the dramaturgy office and regaled resident dramaturg Gavin Witt and former literary manager Madeleine Oldham with stories -- tales of odd jobs he'd had while trying to make it as an actor and of his adulation for monologist Spalding Gray.
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