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.