Monday, August 02, 2010

My Two Loves and a Broad Named Patti

My dear friend Robert, the Chicago Theatre Addict, emailed me this link to this youtube video this morning.  Swoon!   Some soul took this video from the lawn of Ravinia on the north shore of Chicago on Saturday night during their abbreviated Sondheim birthday gala.   Bob was there in person and shares his thoughts on the thrilling yet somewhat disappointing evening here.

These renditions of "Pretty Women" and "Little Priest" from Sweeney Todd, presented by two previous "Sweeney Todds"  and their "Mrs. Lovett," were previously performed at New York's biggest Birthday gala at the the New York Philharmonic on March 15 and 16, 2010 (I was there for both nights!).  It was filmed and is scheduled to air on PBS in November.

What's the connection with these artists?  George Hearn was the second "Sweeney Todd" on Broadway and then took it on the road for a national tour.  When the tour hit Los Angeles in 1982, it was  filmed  (available on DVD) and he won the Emmy.   In 2001, he reprised the role when he joined Patti LuPone in a series of concert versions with the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Orchestra; the last being filmed (available on DVD)In 2005, Michael Cerveris joined the mix when he took on "Sweeney" with Patti as "Mrs. Lovett" in the acclaimed Broadway revival (yes, I saw it 22 times). 

I had considered going to Ravinia to further extend my own devotion to celebrating Sondheim's 80th birthday.  When I realized it was a gala, I thought twice - galas have a way of being more about the socialites and patrons with big checkbooks rather than the true fans of the work.  Alas, I was right and am rather glad I didn't go.  However, I am glad to have a glimpse of what it looked like via some picnicking fan with a view of the jumbo tron on the beautiful lawn of Ravinia. 


Bob said...

This was the brightest spot of the (irritatingly short) evening. Glad someone captured it!

Sibyl said...

Saw Hearn in that LA tour that they recorded. Had expected to be disappointed (Not Cariou? Seriously?), but Hearn was riveting. Really scary and unhinged. You could feel his presence and creepy charisma when he came on stage even before you knew it was he playing Todd. More than a match for Angela, and that is saying something!

Tyler Barton said...


You are perfectly correct about gala events and the checkbooks and socialites involved. This will make you shudder, but quite a few of my fellow performers do not enjoy Sondheim, and when I sing anything by him, they always have something ridiculous to say about how his musicals do not make any sense or some other nonsense, and they proceed to tell about how the Disney musicals are perfect; however, I do not think that they have noticed that most of them have much the same story in which the princess falls in love with the prince at the end. I wish my friends were better informed.


Sarah B. Roberts said...

Bob - I loved that section of the Phil's concert too - what a dream.

Sibyl - WOW! You saw the original tour. I do listen to the original cast recording constantly, but for my money, I wish it was George instead of Len. From what I understand, the two performances were very different. I've seen an audience film of the original Broadway and Len was amazing, but George's voice is what really does it to me. Plus, it's the DVD of the tour that caused me to fall in love with Sweeney Todd in the first place.

Tyler, maybe you should teach your friends, although I have to say that I'm not surprised given some of the shows that you've listed that you've done. Still, there's room for all kinds of musicals.

Anonymous said...

Great performance--but I didn't really grasp the implications of "gala" when I bought my tickets. I was totally pissed when the damn show only lasted 60 minutes--AND then those bums at Ravinia were immediately kicking us out of the park!

Never again will I go there!