Last night Mario and I went with our friends Michael & Calvin to see the new Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. It was extremely good. Patti LuPone, Michael Cerveris, and the rest of the extraordinary cast are all brilliant, and their performances play like they're having so much fun that it might be illegal--and I'm sure they really are having this much fun.
The director and designer, John Doyle, has stripped down the show to it's absolute minimum, with the performers not only singing and acting, but working as the entire orchestra. Ms. LuPone plays the tuba, orchestra bells and other percussion, and she plays the triangle with more wit than I previously thought possible. They sing and act while playing, they carry their instruments around on stage, and the whole thing is so gripping, the performances so believeable, that the illusion is completely genuine. London absolutely appears.
I suspect this production will have wavering popularlity with out-of-town audiences, since not only is the subject matter dark and quite adult, but I think primarily this show will serve to draw the line between theater goers who want to be entertained, and theater goers who want to be entertained and involved. Because the show has very few props, and only one set which does not change, you're left with only the brilliant actors and your own imagination.
I smell Tony....big time.