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 Post subject: Sweeney Todd Question #17 - The Barber's Chair
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:42 am 
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Some plays have included the barber chair prop to the point of it falling under the stage and others have not. The concert version that I saw did not. Do you think it is important to the play?



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:30 am 
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Can't quite picture the chair falling below the stage, but I think the barber chair prop is 'pivotal.' As Kaye said,"...it is obligatory and expected to have some sort of gimmicked chair in a production of Sweeney Todd." I know that after reading the play, I was very curious to see how the chair would be staged. Minimalist staging--yes, but a very smooth operating death machine. It's the center piece of the play (a position it will undoubtedly lose when Johnny's in the picture!) and a constant reminder that anyone who comes near it may be the next to go.
(After all that, if the question was whether or not having the chair fall under the stage was important---I don't know! I guess it would mean the end of all that kind of murderous nonsense.)



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:39 am 
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Probably as it gets rid of the body quickly. Btw in the Pitt play couldn't quite work out if Sweeny actually killed his victims first, presumably not as Mark was able to climb back out which was very odd if they were suposed to die from the fall :perplexed: On the other hand if sweeny did slit their throats how come mark was still alive :perplexed:
It was used in the BBC version, I can't quite remember how though. I think Sweeny tipped the chair into a trapdoor


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:50 am 
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Betty Sue, I agree that it is necssary and the way it was staged in the Sondheim version, it was the focus of attention. (As you say, that will change!)

GG, it was a way to get the body off stage quickly and get it into the hands of Mrs. Lovett. As far as the Pitt play, I was under the impression that Sweeney did not kill them first, that they were supposed to be killed by the fall. I suppose Mark was just hard headed?
:lol:



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:27 am 
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Hi Lizbaba, yes I think the barber's chair is very important to the and atmosphere of the play. I think it's just the idea that something so mundane as a barber's chair could become an instrument of murder. :freaked: It just makes the play more insidious, creepy you know?

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:39 am 
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I agree, Boobaba. I think it also is unusual, and in a way, comical. I also think it is important if it is used as the instrument of Sweeney's demise, as in the Pitt play. And I know I'm not supposed to get into Tim's vision of ST yet, but I will just add that it could be easily used in the movie because films can do just about anything with special effects.



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:17 pm 
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Liz wrote:
I agree, Boobaba. I think it also is unusual, and in a way, comical. I also think it is important if it is used as the instrument of Sweeney's demise, as in the Pitt play. And I know I'm not supposed to get into Tim's vision of ST yet, but I will just add that it could be easily used in the movie because films can do just about anything with special effects.



Lizbaba, I'm really looking forward to seeing what Tim will do with that chair. :mwahaha: It's funny you bring up the comic aspects of the barber's chair, I have a feeling that Tim and Johnny will find creative ways to make at least some of actions involving the chair funny.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:45 pm 
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In Sondheim's version / Landsbury play, it's the Beadle who has the hard head. :lol:

If the chair literally falls below the stage at one point, I think it would be symbolizing the fall of Sweeny, even if Sweeny dies or not.

As for special effects and the chair? I don't know. :eyebrow: Never really thought about ST and any special effects at all, except blood of course.



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 2:54 pm 
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Don't give us all your ideas for the Tim/Johnny version just yet! That question is lurking in the future!



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 2:56 pm 
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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
Don't give us all your ideas for the Tim/Johnny version just yet! That question is lurking in the future!


:-| mmmMMMmmm ... :music:



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 Post subject: Chair designs
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 4:37 pm 
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Quote:
Some plays have included the barber chair prop to the point of it falling under the stage and others have not. The concert version that I saw did not. Do you think it is important to the play?


I remember one chair description as sort of a double chair, one top and one upside down on the bottom, and the whole thing rotates changing chairs so when the top one is emptied the empty one swings up to takes its place. I am pretty sure this was in Hain's version. Also, as to how the murders were done, Hains and Pitt's version have the chair as the murder weapon and Sweeney had to go down and "finish them off" only if the chair wasn't fatal.

In Pitts version the chair was a single affair with a trip lever that Sweeney triggered. Sweeney's demise was caused by a faulty mechanism due to Mr. Smiths tampering.

In Sondhiems play Sweeney seems a bit more brutal and cuts their throats and uses the chair to dispose of them to Mrs. Lovetts below.

The chair seems to be an important prop in all three of these versions and the difference is in how it is used. I have not seen the one without the chair so can't comment on how it would be without it.

Sondhiem's repeated throat cutting makes Sweeney more sinister. I think the chair does add a macabre comic effect that lightens things up a bit from throat cutting.



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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 4:46 pm 

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Liz wrote:
I agree, Boobaba. I think it also is unusual, and in a way, comical. I also think it is important if it is used as the instrument of Sweeney's demise, as in the Pitt play. And I know I'm not supposed to get into Tim's vision of ST yet, but I will just add that it could be easily used in the movie because films can do just about anything with special effects.


I am imagining the camera sliding down through the floor as it did in The Man Who Cried...and whoa...ok my mind is wandering here with the "wall scene"....

Gemini wrote:
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Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 5:37 pm Post subject: Chair designs

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Some plays have included the barber chair prop to the point of it falling under the stage and others have not. The concert version that I saw did not. Do you think it is important to the play?


I remember one chair description as sort of a double chair, one top and one upside down on the bottom, and the whole thing rotates changing chairs so when the top one is emptied the empty one swings up to takes its place. I am pretty sure this was in Hain's version. Also, as to how the murders were done, Hains and Pitt's version have the chair as the murder weapon and Sweeney had to go down and "finish them off" only if the chair wasn't fatal.



That reminds me of those old cartoons...things like that wre always happening.....there was even an old begger who shuffled home with his cup and entered his shack and pushed a button and the floor flipped around and a room fit for a king popped up, complete with roaring fire.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 6:55 pm 
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Charlene wrote:

Gemini wrote:
Quote:
Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 5:37 pm Post subject: Chair designs

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Some plays have included the barber chair prop to the point of it falling under the stage and others have not. The concert version that I saw did not. Do you think it is important to the play?


I remember one chair description as sort of a double chair, one top and one upside down on the bottom, and the whole thing rotates changing chairs so when the top one is emptied the empty one swings up to takes its place. I am pretty sure this was in Hain's version. Also, as to how the murders were done, Hains and Pitt's version have the chair as the murder weapon and Sweeney had to go down and "finish them off" only if the chair wasn't fatal.



That reminds me of those old cartoons...things like that wre always happening.....there was even an old begger who shuffled home with his cup and entered his shack and pushed a button and the floor flipped around and a room fit for a king popped up, complete with roaring fire.


And those cartoons were pretty scary to kids, like me. :freaked:



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 7:10 pm 
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I do think the chair is important, it one of the instruments of death by one means or another. In the 1930s version there was more than one barber chair in the shop and ST would direct his selected victim to the "special chair" and as I recall, it did flip a second identical chair up to the shop when a victim had been dumped into the basement.

What struck me most about the chair in that movie was its resemblance to an electric chair, similar to the torture chair in the Brave, rather than a modern barber chair.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:24 pm 
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I think the chair is important. In Pitt's version, weren't there several chairs, but only one was the chair-o-death? I think that would be a great way to stage things.... have some people in the shop getting a shave or haircut while sitting in a safe chair while others were in the dangerous chair. That would add to the suspense.



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