Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sweeney Todd

In April 2006 Ryan and I got to go on a great trip to New York City, sort of for work, mostly for fun. Although we had already been blessed with tickets to "Wicked" from Ryan's company (which was so wonderful, by the way!) we wanted to take advantage of the booth that sells half price Broadway show tickets the day of the event. While Ry was working, I went and stood in the long line. I chatted with a few people, heard some great reviews for Sweeney Todd, but I was totally unfamiliar with the story. A cute, little old lady in front of me said that the only tickets she wanted were for Sweeney Todd, if they were sold out, she didn't want to see anything. In my mind, I pictured a sweet, light, romantic Broadway musical, something akin to "The Music Man." I was thrilled when they had a couple of seats available and bought the tickets.

When I called Ryan to tell him of my purchase (cash-only, non-refundable), he was a little taken aback. You see, he KNEW the story and was surprised that I'd picked that musical, out of all that were playing in New York. I had the sweet little old lady on my side, though, right?

Imagine my surprise when we got the playbill and there was the image shown above with the sub-heading "Demon Barber of Fleet Street". It took me a few uncomfortable minutes to realize that this musical was about an unjustly accused and imprisoned barber who decides to get revenge when he is released many years later. His shop is above Mrs. Lovett's Meat Pie Shop and he ends up killing most of his clients (hoping to get revenge against the crooked judge who put him in prison in the first place so the judge could hook up with the barber's wife) in a gruesome, barbaric manner. Mrs. Lovett is his partner in crime, and a solution to "How do we get rid of the body?" becomes apparent in their song "A Little Priest". They decide to use the flesh of the victims in the meat pies. Just in case you aren't keeping up, that would be "a little priest" in the meat pies.

The musical score was brilliant (by Stephen Sondheim) and although the whole idea of the story was very against my general beliefs (murder!), it was performed wonderfully. The way they utilized the cast--as the orchestra and crew in addition to their parts--was very inventive. Patti LuPone played the tuba. You can't get any better than that. I really want to believe that if I knew what I was in for, I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more. As it was though, I sat through most of the first half white-knuckled and horrified that I was watching a Broadway show about so many murders and then cannibalism--in meat pies no less! I thought I was in for some "Marian Librarian" and I got Nightmare on Fleet Street.

Fast forward a few months, when my mom told me that she would be singing (with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd. The director took a little grief for choosing it, but it was a lovely song after all. I had to chuckle at that.

A few months later, we heard that Tim Burton was making it into a movie--starring Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd and Burton's wife Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett. We don't make it a practice to watch movies that are rated R (no judgments on people who DO watch them) but we made an exception for this one... justification at it's finest.
We held off for several months (after all, we can't risk anyone seeing us going into an R-rated movie, much better to get it from Redbox, watch it at home, then blog about it for the whole world to see) but finally succumbed a few days ago. I have to say, it was extremely well done. Both Depp and Carter have amazing voices, and Tim Burton's quirkiness combined with the acting skills of the stars made it a very enjoyable show.

Not to say there wasn't a fair amount of blood... okay, an INSANE amount of blood. Every time someone sat in the barber's chair, I closed my eyes and waited for Ryan to tell me it was clear because within seconds, Sweeney Todd goes for the jugular with his beautifully carved silver razor and ridiculous quantities of very fake looking blood spurt out. The music though--it was just incredible. The special features showed that Helena Bonham Carter didn't sing at all before training for this role, and Johnny Depp didn't sing for Tim Burton or Stephen Sondheim before he was given the lead role, but they both blew me away.

Icing on the cake: the next day for lunch, Ryan went to our neighborhood cafe and picked up a couple of... meat pies. I told him I couldn't stomach anything with red meat... and the chicken pies were actually quite delicious.

**Did you know the story of Sweeney Todd?
**Did my post make you want to watch it? Which version (is Broadway more respectable than the movie?)?
**Is your mouth watering for a juicy meat pie?


LAURA & ELIZA said...

I've heard about this movie and Broadway play, but knowing the weirdness that are typically Johnny Depp movies (did you see Secret Window?), I decided to not see that one. I don't like blood in movies at all, I can't handle it for some reason, so no. I won't be seeing that movie. HAHA!

gurrbonzo said...

Hahaha! I want to see it now. And this post makes me miss the Yogurt Parlor!

Lula Mae said...

Oh, we love meat pies but I'll stear clear of any with "little priests" whatever the heck that means.

Sally said...

Yes Ma'am, I did know the story behind it, but when Troy told me you guys got tickets to it NY, I was quite happy to have chosen a Yankee game instead. After going to said game, however, and only lasting for 3 innings (that's when Troy ran out of cash for food. Food is what keeps me at sporting events.) I was envying you those tickets. I still wish we would have gone to a show instead. I do love me some Johnny Depp, though. I can't think of a thing I've seen him in that I haven't liked. He's why Jack is named Jack! I'd never seen a guy look better in makeup than I did, until I saw him play Jack Sparrow. I was hooked. We also grew up with a Barbra Streisand cd of Broadway songs, and one was "Not While I'm Around". I love it.

Kristy said...

Lisa you are a rebel!!! Ha! I actually love Jonny Depp, strange as he and his movies are! I haven't seen either version but it sounds interesting in a gruesome sort of way! I love broadway shows and New York City.

Janene said...

johnny depp has such talent, I think. All I knew about this movie was the poster -- and I figured it looked NOT my type.

ps I can't believe you had meat pies the next day!! I guess you'd have to get over it eventually. Hah!