Mark your calendar. Theatergoers will get the chance to attend the tale of Sweeney Todd, when the New York Philharmonic presents a staged version of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical next spring. The demon barber of Fleet Street will have an extremely short run from March 5-8, 2014, at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center.
The production will be conducted by Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert and directed by Lonny Price who staged the orchestra’s 2011 version of Sondheim’s Company, its 2010 birthday salute to the composer, and its 2000 staging of Sweeney. The title role of the vengeful barber will be played by Bryn Terfel, the opera singer whose recent credits include Wotan in the Metropolitan Opera’s massive production of Wagner’s Ring cycle. The role of Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney’s accomplice who serves up his victims in meat pies, has not been cast yet, nor have there been announcements for any of the other roles.
“It is always exciting when the New York Philharmonic steps out of its traditional role to expand the notion of what an orchestra can be,” said Gilbert in a statement. “Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd is both powerful and exuberant, and the Philharmonic’s performance of this score will again demonstrate just how outstanding a great Broadway show is when performed by the musicians of this great orchestra.”
“I am always excited to return to the New York Philharmonic, and particularly with Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece Sweeney Todd,” added Price. “There is no orchestra in the world better suited to play this music, and I know under Alan Gilbert’s baton, Sweeney will scare, delight, and thrill Philharmonic audiences with the power of Mr. Sondheim’s unparalleled work in the musical theater.”
Sweeney Todd opened on Broadway in 1979 with Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury, won eight Tonys Awards including Best Musical and ran for 558 performances. It has been revived twice on Broadway—in 1989 with Bob Gunton and Beth Fowler in a scaled-downed version and in 2005 with Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone in a production set in a madhouse with the cast playing all the instruments. LuPone also starred in the Philharmonic’s 2000 version opposite George Hearn. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter headlined the 2007 movie version helmed by Tim Burton.