28. August 2005 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

I’m very fond of Sondheim musicals, as many people know. But Sweeney Todd is coming back, and I’m not thrilled with the new show. From what I understand they aren’t hiring a pit orchestra. Instead, the singing actors on stage will also be playing instruments. Um. Hello? Patti Lupone on tuba? Difficult to imagine that she is good enough to pull this off. Michael Cervaris will be on guitar, and I have an easier time guessing that a person in musical theatre has played guitar in his lifetime. I guess while the beggar woman isn’t begging she’ll be playing clarinet (her bio says she does actually play the instrument, so as long as she’s a AFM union member – and the agreement was that all the stage actors will join the musicians’ union – I guess we can’t argue with that one). But will they play the instruments well enough that we picky players won’t start laughing (or cursing)? Of course what could be worse than the “fake orchestra” the non-equity tour of Cats had here in San Jose. That was unbearable and I couldn’t believe how much I had to pay for such a rotten performance. Or could it get even worse?! I guess I’d have to go to New York to find out.

Here is the entire cast/instrument breakdown:

Alexander Gemignani: Beadle – piano/trumpet
Diana DiMarzio: Beggar Woman – clarinet
Benjamin Magnuson: Anthony – cello
Lauren Molina: Johanna – cello/tin whistle
John Arbo: Jonas Fogg – double bass
Manoel Felciano: Tobias – violin/clarinet/piano
Donna Lynne Champlin: Pirelli – piano/accordian/flute
Mark Jacoby: Judge Turpin – trumpet/percussion/glockenspiel
Patti Lupone: Mrs. Lovett- percussion/glockenspiel/tuba
Michael Cerveris: Sweeney Todd – guitar/percussion

So have they cut the oboe/English horn book, along with bassoon, harp and others … or will there still be a few musicians-who-can’t-act in the pit?

Okay. Maybe they are all incredible instrumentalists and I have nothing to complain about. I suppose that could happen. But I wonder if they just don’t care about the quality of the music? Is this just another way to get people in the door? Is this another gimmick? A money saver? (For it does save a lot of money … hmmm … think they’ll lower ticket prices then?) Or is this “performance art”?

Next time a show comes here, though, I’m going to ask if I can act and sing on stage. (And will Equity let me join as easily as the AFM are allowing these “instrumentalists” to join?) Heck, I’m sure I could do it. It’s easy … like playing the tuba … right?

Full article on Sweeney Todd.

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