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Sweeney Todd in Concert

4.8 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: George Hearn, Patti LuPone, Neil Patrick Harris, Timothy Nolen, Davis Gaines
  • Directors: Lonny Price
  • Writers: Hugh Wheeler
  • Producers: Chase Mishkin, Ellen M. Krass, Iris Merlis, Jeff Thorsen, Morton Swinsky
  • Format: Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: eOne Films
  • Release Date: Oct. 1 2002
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B0000648Y0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,228 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

This delicious production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Ba rber of Fleet Street, a musical thriller of revenge and romance set in Victorian Engla nd, features Broadway diva Patti LuPone as Mrs. Lovett and veteran stage actor George Hear n in the title role. Premiering in 1979, the legendary Sweeney Todd--winner of nine New York Drama Critics Circle Awards and eight Tony Awards--is recorded with the San Fran cisco Symphony as conducted by Rob Fisher. Cast:

Patti LuPone: Mrs. Lovett
George Hearn: Sweeney Todd
Davis Gaines: Anthony Hope
Lisa Vroman: Johanna
Neil Patrick Harris: Tobias Ragg
Timothy Nolen: Judge Turpin
John Aler: Beadle
Victoria Clark: Beggar Woman
Stanford Olsen: Pirelli

The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra's 2001 concert production of Stephen Sondheim's witty shocker is musically superb and (even without scenery) theatrically effective. The performers are in costume and use a few essential props such as Todd's razor, but more than these details the quality of their singing and acting makes this production stand out. It looks like a final seal of approval at the end when Sondheim comes out, smiling, to take a bow.

Sweeney Todd evokes a special balance of horror and comedy because injustice, revenge, and cannibalism are the subjects of its grisly humor, balanced with moments of romantic idealism. George Hearn in the title role and Patti LuPone as the enterprising, utterly amoral pie seller Mrs. Lovett are both brilliant, with an excellent supporting cast. Members of the orchestra are occasionally seen behind the action, but frequent, effective close-up shots of the singers generate a dramatic atmosphere. --Joe McLellan

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This recording was my first exposure to the masterpiece that is "Sweeney Todd," and I was absolutely blown away. First off, you have that score, that glorious Sondheim score. Almost entirely sung through, "Sweeney" is one of the few musicals where I wouldn't remove a single song, and the operatic voices in this concert coupled with the huge orchestra highlight Sondheim's brilliance perfectly. The group numbers are especially effective, and the six-part harmony in the Act II opener "God, That's Good" will make your eyes bug out.
And the actors!!! They are all amazingly talented, have divine voices, and have an incredible grasp on the complex characters. Twenty years after replacing Len Cariou on Broadway, George Hearn proves he still has what it takes to make an amazing Sweeney. If anything, the added years have made his performance even stronger than it was on the '82 video recording, and his voice hasn't weakened one bit.
Another real find is Neil Patrick Harris (who knew the ex-Dougie Houser was a tenor?), who earned Sondheim's seal of approval as "the definitive Tobias." Watching this performance will prove the platitude is not wasted. Harris is instantly charming from the moment he takes stage, and the Act II ballad "Not While I'm Around" will break your heart. He sings it with such emotion and a crystal-clear tenor voice that your heart will immediately go out to him, and the song is one of the highlights of this uniformly excellent DVD.
However, for me "Sweeney Todd" has and will always be about Mrs. Lovett, and Patti LuPone's performance delivers in spades. Now, don't get me wrong, Angela Lansbury's performance in the original cast is irreplaceable, but LuPone comes in a very close second.
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Format: DVD
Because it's a concert, you lose some of the visual aid that helps the story come to life. The costumes definitely help- particularly for Sweeney and the Beadle.
Overall, I enjoyed watching this concert because I like the music a lot. But if you're only going to buy one version of this, get the '82 production with Angela Lansbury. Patti Lupone's interpretation of Mrs. Lovett was almost too sinister, too sensual. She was really unlikeable.
Neil Patrick Harris was surprisingly good. My only problem with him is that he looked a little too old (perhaps costume might have helped here too)and too wise. Maybe it is because he is so tall.. Overall, I just got the feeling that there was something missing. It felt too serious and I felt that when the audience laughed, it wasn't because they were laughing at Lupone's great delivery, rather it was because they knew a funny line was coming so they laughed courteously. If you're a true Sweeney Todd fan, you should have this as part of your collection. Otherwise, stick to the '82 version.
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Format: DVD
For many years it was hard for me to attend to the tale of
Sweeney; I suffered from that affliction of many fans of
masterworks - my definitive version was the first one I
attended and since it was the production mounted in Sydney
in 1988, I had no recording of it to reprise.
Yes, you yanks, we do stage musicals in Australia.
It was about as different from this production in musical
forces as you can get. However, it shared the absolute
*focus* on tragedy that this production keeps.
I couldn't come at the lauded 1982 recording with my heart,
pleasing enough though the musicality and Grand Guignol shocks were; I couldn't feel the apprehension which the Sydney performances maintained from the first screaming whistle.
Then a couple of months ago, I caught this production on our
public broadcast channel.
It is *the* Show. In every way.
The big band with big operatic voices is a revelation.
The staging with pared down props and action is still the full
And the new judge's stuff adds to the whole.
The camera is so clearly scripted. It is as much a stage tool as the clever ramps.
The shocks are still delivered but they are more from the musicians now.
I am very glad the dvd is in stock at my favourite US store.
It has been played here after dinner every night this week.
If you haven't experienced a Sweeney performance yet,
then make sure you see this one first.
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Format: DVD
Sweeney Todd is a fantastic musical and this DVD truly lives up to the quality of the show itself. Bear with me as this is probably more of a comparison to the 1982 video than many would like. To begin, of the two, the acting and singing in the Concert is superior. Granted Angela Lansbury isn't to be topped, however LuPone's Lovett is a nicely different interpretation offering more sensuality to the role. I had the good fortune of listening to the New York Philharmonic recording first, and LuPone was extremely grating on that recording, but by the time the Concert was performed in San Fransisco, she toned down a little, providing a much better performance. Overall, I enjoy LuPone's performance on the DVD. She is a true comediene--perhaps my favorite moment is right after Sweeney's Epiphany, a great transition into the lighter feel of A Little Priest. George Hearn is still fantastic after 20 years, there's nothing else to be said. Lisa Vroman is also good as Johanna. A lot of people have complaints, but I seem to have forgotten her lackluster acting, because I tend to be pretty hypercritical. In fact, my main memory from the DVD is the nuance in Vroman's singing during "Green Finch..." which i don't hear in the original cast, but now can't imagine an actress not picking up on it--it concerns the lines "Are you crowing, Are you screaming?". Also, she is 27 times better than the girl on the 1982 tour with Hearn and Lansbury. Even if you don't like Vroman, I can't see how you would like the other girl better. Davis Gaines is great, even if he looks pretty old to be Anthony. Nolan makes a great Judge Thurpin and is perfectly disconcerting. Also, the costume concept is great, and the use of platforms surrounding the orchestra is a fantastic idea.Read more ›
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