Musicals I Should Know 1: Introductions & Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Burton, 2007)

Hello! My name’s Patrick and I’m currently the Vice President for MTS for this year (20/21). Now it’s no secret that I don’t know of a lot of musicals and this year I’ve wanted to make a commitment to listen to and learn of more. Therefore, with the establishment of this blog by James (thank you!), not only could it be something where I can catalogue the musicals I’ve gone through, but also for any new members that aren’t as knowledgeable on musicals, then maybe this can be of some help? Apologies in advance as I’m still sort of getting used to the writing a review part so if it’s a bit all over the place that’s my reasoning.

There are some plot spoilers dotted throughout here.

Anyways, the way that I intend for this to work is to watch a musical usually at the beginning of the week and then to have it all written up by the end of the week. This week, subsequently, I watched Tim Burton’s 2007 Film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 Musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I initially found this through actually watching a non-Musical series The Crown, which in its later series features Helena Bonham Carter. It then drew me to a couple of YouTube clips of the musical which then developed into a full-on watch.

Sometimes I have to admit the CG and effects of the film did throw me off particularly in the opening sequence, but to contrast, the use of the CG in Nellie Lovett’s ‘By The Sea’ actually worked wonderfully in crafting such a glamorised depiction of the British seaside in the mid-1800s. With that, though there was still a slight stain (primarily within the colours when I’m thinking about it) that grapples the viewer into keeping them somewhat in the reality mindset of who this is the songs about. Speak of the devil, Depp’s Mr Todd brings forth particularly the sense of hurt that he feels throughout the musical at the loss of his wife. The singing can be particularly understated (as with Bonham Carter’s) but in contrast, Depp is able to ramp up the vocals in moments of sadness and anguish, particularly towards the end once he discovers the beggar woman was his wife, Lucy. Still, it could go a bit further for me in some of the songs as some of them do feel like they blend together just a little (or that might just be my track of watching musicals, sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t).

Overall, for someone who has only really just heard of the story of Sweeney Todd, and not the musical itself, I very much enjoyed getting introduced to this version of the musical and hopefully will try to get to listening to the other versions of this, particularly the use of Angela Lansbury in the original 1979 Broadway production.

Patrick Byron – MTS Vice President

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