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Sweeney Todd Forum


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The imminent challenges of Sweeney Todd 
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Young Hoofer
Young Hoofer

Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:54 pm
Posts: 32
Location: Kent, United Kingdom
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elizabethjaneforrest wrote:
The score is TOUGH to learn, even for talented musicians.


I completely agree that this is the biggest problem.
The patterns of lyrics are complicated. The same themes and tunes are used all the way through and when they do reapear, Sondheim has changed three words, or sections of the rhythm. (Pirelli's Miracle Elixir and God That's good are the most obvious example) I am in the the chorus in my theatre group's current production of Sweeney and I have been practising so, so much.

According to the principles, the script is similarly difficult to get into your mind.

There are lots of tongue twisters in the songs and if you can, I would get hold of the sound track to get to know the songs a little.

We are a month away from opening night - we started in July - and everyone is still finding some songs difficult (city on fire is quite hard to learn. I've been putting it off), however the challenge has been exhillerating and it is really coming together. I know it will be fab on the night!!

Enjoy it! :D


Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:33 pm
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Broadway Legend
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Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:09 am
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Main Role: Performer
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Add another vote for the difficulty of the music -- across the board. It's hard for the principals AND it's rough on the chorus.

It's been causing me a bit of grief. I was planning on doing another musical this coming Spring, and felt like I had a pretty solid shot at a nice principal role (the villain, natch, since I'm a bass) but then another area company let leak that it's planning to do Sweeney Todd about a month after that first show opens.

I talked to the prospective director, and he didn't see a problem with it, but I'm now leaning against doing that other show. I'm a trained singer, and I feel like I'm reasonably familiar with the songs, but if I want to play Todd (and I really do, though Turpin would be nice as well) I don't think I'll be able to give a performance that *I* am happy with without dedicating to it for the whole rehearsal period.

God knows what the prospective company members (half of which, knowing a typical company composition, won't be able to read music) are up against.


Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:47 am
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Young Hoofer
Young Hoofer

Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:54 pm
Posts: 32
Location: Kent, United Kingdom
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The company I am with did company auditions and then did outside auditions to fill main principles and to bulk up the chorus. Those that don't read music worked with the CD and in rehearsals we had a choir type thing going on. We rehearsed all of the songs first until everyone knew the general tunes, then the musical director really pushed with the reminders and any details as the director did the blocking.

Todd has found it a challenge, but I think the singing element of the role would be relatively approachable if you are a strong singer. Sweney sings a lot of the melody in songs rather than complicated harmonies. I'd say the Judge's role would be better if you wanted to take a step back, however, Sweeney looks a lot more fun to play. Get hold of the CD if you can and try and get into it in your car if you drive, or a half hour a day or something. Sweeney's part is easy to hear throughout. Plus, if you have an excellent Mrs Lovett then you will have excellent support in her as I'd say the parts are equally as tough!


Mon Oct 05, 2009 11:38 am
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It's not so much the melodics as the transitions between them -- there are several spots in the show where Todd moves from one tune to another within the same scene (No Place Like London -> Barber and His Wife, for instance... and that's a good part of what makes "Epiphany" such a monster to sing properly ... going between the component snatches of melody, and the spoken bits). Not to mention Sondheim's occasional tendencies toward atonality...

Personally, I'm confident I can handle the role if I can land it and I'll at least get a fair shake at that. In any case, I'd rather dedicate myself to this show and play Todd well than do Turpin with half a mind to it (though Turpin's role is no piece of cake either, considering I'm positive the director will want to do Turpin's Johanna). The point was that, even for a strong singer, this isn't a show whose music you can approach halfheartedly.


Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:11 pm
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