Stage Revival Promises to Be Even Better Than the Movie

Posted on January 16th, 2008

1/16/2008 12:00AM CST
The Dallas Morning News
Stage revival promises to be even better than the movie
by Lawson Taitte

Sweeney Todd: You’ve seen the movie. Now see the real thing.
Actually, Tim Burton’s screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s bloody musical masterpiece was faithful to the 1979 stage original, in its fashion. But it left quite a bit out. And a musical almost always works better when it’s being performed by genuine singing actors rather than by well-coached but essentially voiceless movie stars.

The stage version that the Dallas Summer Musicals’ Broadway Contemporary Series brings to the Majestic Theatre on Tuesday has considerably more going for it than mere completeness. This is the production by director John Doyle that won plaudits first in London and then a 2006 Tony Award in New York.

Its eccentricities have become famous. All the onstage performers play musical instruments. In fact, they’re the only band there is. The show is apparently taking place in an insane asylum, and the inmates are the actors. A certain amount of blood is part of the action – although even Mr. Doyle’s production can’t rival the film in the gore department.

The story, of course, remains the same. A mysterious man, Sweeney Todd, returns to London from abroad in search of vengeance. His new ladylove, Mrs. Lovett, owns a pie shop near the barbershop where Sweeney once worked. The two find a new supply of meat for the pies – in the bodies of the men whose throats Sweeney cuts in his quest for revenge.

Five performers from the New York revival are part of the tour. The live cast is strongest, however, in the role that suffers most in the movie. Helena Bonham Carter is too glamorous, and not nearly dotty enough, to make a credible Mrs. Lovett. The tour stars one of Broadway’s most talented performers, Judy Kaye, in the role. Ms. Kaye won a Tony Award as Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera and was nominated for another as one of the female sidekicks in Mamma Mia! Those roles didn’t begin to show her real powers as a performer. Mrs. Lovett is a perfect fit.

Opens Tuesday at 8 p.m. and runs through Jan. 20 at the Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm St. Continues Wednesday through Jan. 18 at 8 p.m., Jan. 19-20 at 2 and 8 p.m. Ticketmaster.

$17 to $62.

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