Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sweeney Todd

Saturday night's entertainment was a performance of Sweeney Todd at the Eugene O'Neill Theater. I got the tickets a few weeks ago after reading the review in the Washington Post and figuring that we couldn't miss Patti LuPone playing the tuba and singing. We weren't disappointed. The show is staged without a pit orchestra; the actors not only sing their roles, but play multiple instruments when they're not singing or acting. Michael Cerveris, who played Sweeney Todd, also played guitar, LuPone played tuba, and several others played cello, violin, accordion, flute, piano, bass, and percussion. I'm not a huge fan of Stephen Sondheim's music, but the performances here really brought out the energy and excitement in his songs. LuPone was terrific, of course, but the real star was Michael Cerveris. He was menacing but soft, tender but vicious. And the staging was simple: a backdrop of shelves with pots, pans, and other knickknacks, and just chairs and a large black coffin on the stage itself. The coffin served as a table, platform, podium, and occasionally a coffin. It wasn't my favorite of the Broadway shows I've seen (that would still be 2000's The Music Man with Craig Bierko) but it was definitely one of the most creative shows I've seen.

Also, at intermission I was standing at my seat thinking "I wonder if there are any celebrities here tonight." Just then, as if I'd conjured him out of the air, I saw Jay Mohr walking up the aisle. He was wearing a zip-up gray hoodie sweatshirt over a yellow T-shirt and jeans, and on his way back from the concession stand looked a little wobbly. I sent the sighting to Gawker, so hopefully I'll make the Gawker Stalker column this week.

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