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 Post subject: Sweeney Todd Week! ~ Tidbit #1 ~ A Story Timeline
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:48 am 
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Welcome to Sweeney Todd Week at ONBC! :sweeneydemon: :bounce:

This week we will be reposting some of our favorite tidbits to give you some background on the story, the musical and the setting of Sweeney Todd's London.

Beginning on Friday with the opening of the movie :bounce: :bounce: :bounce: we will be posting questions over the weekend asking your opinions on different aspects of the movie. Be sure to check in with us once you have seen the film!
:popcorn: :fear: And now our first tidbit...



For almost two centuries, the enduring legend of maniacal barber Sweeney Todd and his savory human pies has inspired terror in the hearts and minds of the public, whether through the printed page or the theatrical stage. There is some debate on which version came first, but here is a timeline of the major milestone productions.

1825 - The French story of a murderous barber appears in Tell-Tale Magazine under the title "A Terrible Story of the Rue de la Harpe."

1846 - Thomas Peckett Prest serializes the story, retitled The String of Pearls. It is published in one of London's penny dreadful newspapers. (The title came from a necklace that Sweeney steals from one of his victims.) Weekly installments of the barber's homicidal exploits become immensely popular.

1847 - The String of Pearls is dramatized by George Dibdin-Pitt. His melodrama, subtitled "The Fiend of Fleet Street," is set in London during the "Reign of George II," or the second half of the 18th century. The play opens at the Britannia Theatre, where audiences demand bloodcurdling entertainments, and is advertised as being "Founded on Fact."

1848 - The enormous success of Dibdin-Pitt's play spawns dozens of imitations. In some, the hero is a dog whose master has met his end via Sweeney's blade. The faithful dog haunts the barber's doorstep and eventually leads authorities to the fiend. These bloody melodramas were continuously produced in and around London throughout the remainder of the 19th century.

1936 - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, directed by George King, becomes the first film version of the story. Todd Slaughter, the film's star, makes a career out of portraying Sweeney Todd on stages around the world.

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1959 - The Royal Ballet Company produces a ballet version, with music by Malcolm Arnold and choreography by John Cranko.

1973 - Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Christopher Bond opens at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. This version is seen by composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, who recruits book writer Hugh Wheeler to collaborate with him on a musical treatment of Bond's play.

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1979 - Sondheim and Wheeler's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opens at Broadway's Uris Theatre in a production directed by Harold Prince and starring Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou. The recipient of eight Tony Awards, Sweeney Todd is instantly recognized as a landmark in musical theater inspiring productions in both theater and opera companies around the world.

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2001 - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is performed in concert with the San Francisco Symphony. The performance, starring George Hearn and Patti LuPone (as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett), is filmed by Ellen M. Krass Productions. The resulting television program premieres on PBS October 31, 2001.

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The musical was televised twice. In 1982 a full-scale production featuring the national touring cast aired and won three Emmys. This version[1] starred Lansbury and George Hearn, who took over the role of Sweeney on Broadway after Len Cariou's departure. The second was a concert version presented on PBS in 2000, starring Hearn and Patti LuPone and directed by Lonny Price.

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In 2004 John Doyle directed a revival of the musical at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, which subsequently transferred to the West End's Trafalgar Studios and then the New Ambassadors Theatre. Without an orchestra, the actors themselves played the score. This production marked the first time in nearly ten years that Sondheim had been presented in the commercial West End. The production transferred to Broadway in 2005, with a cast headed by Tony Award nominees Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone. It closed at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on September 3, 2006, but is now on tour across the United States, Liz having seen it in September in San Francisco.

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December 21, 2007…

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:58 am 
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Thanks DITHOT, I'm getting really excited about getting the chance to see this on Friday! These tidbits will be a nice lead in.

I think it's a bit ironic that Johnny and Len Cariou appeared in a film together (Secret Window) and now Johnny is doing the role that LC made famous on Broadway in '79. I wonder if they have ever had a conversation about it.



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:01 am 
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The Secret Window connection came up during our discussion! It would be interesting to get their take on it. Funny ol' world, innit?



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:36 pm 
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I have collected several DVD versions of ST, including the Lansbury/Hearn musical. It still amazes ( and confuses ) me that this story has survived over such a long period of time in its various forms. :-? Perhaps it is no different from Frankenstein or the Headless Horseman... .tradition and all of that. We love to be scared -- safely -- by old familiar tales. I can hardly wait to see what Depp and Burton have come up with! :bounce: The previews are amazing.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:51 pm 
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I don't know much about past Sweeneys (so thanks for this tidbit, DitHoT) but I do know one hot-looking, sexy Sweeney when I see one! Johnny, once again, breaks the mold.
Hoist the shivs! :sweeneydepp:



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 4:49 pm 
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KYwoman wrote:
Thanks DITHOT, I'm getting really excited about getting the chance to see this on Friday! These tidbits will be a nice lead in.

I think it's a bit ironic that Johnny and Len Cariou appeared in a film together (Secret Window) and now Johnny is doing the role that LC made famous on Broadway in '79. I wonder if they have ever had a conversation about it.


Remind me... who did Len play in SW?



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 4:55 pm 
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Thanks for all of the interesting tidbits on Sweeny.
I have not seen any version of the play, but have read the play in book form.
I think maybe after viewing it on Friday I may have to do some research and see if I can find other versions.



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 5:22 pm 
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Endora, he played the sheriff.

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johnnybloom, there are quite a few out there!



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 3:27 am 
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i won't be able to take part in the questions, as we don't get to see the movie yet, but I shall enjoy the tidbits as I missed a lot first time around.



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:51 am 
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For anyone that is getting the movie after this Friday, feel free to come back and add to the discussion. We would love to hear your thoughts! :cool:



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