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New York Philharmonic Concert with Bryn Terfel 
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Post New York Philharmonic Concert with Bryn Terfel
So, there was a Sweeney Todd concert with the New York Philharmonic starring Bryn Terfel in the title role.

Sitting down to watch it.


Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:25 pm
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Post Re: New York Philharmonic Concert with Bryn Terfel
I saw this concert when it was shown on PBS a few weeks ago. Overall, I enjoyed it. I wasn't too keen on Emma Thompson's singing, but it was nice to see a manic Mrs. Lovett again; I'm honestly sick of all the understated Lovetts there have been thanks to the John Doyle version and the movie, so I liked seeing some attempt to get her back to the quirky sort of character she used to be. Philip Quast was an excellent Judge Turpin, though I admit if I hadn't known beforehand that he was playing the role, I wouldn't have recognized him. Perhaps I'm too used to the way he looked and sounded in Les Misérables and The Secret Garden. :lol: It was great to see Audra McDonald as the Beggar Woman after hearing her on the album for the 2000 New York concert -- I honestly can't think of any role she played where she wasn't awesome. I also thought Erin Mackey was a pretty good Johanna, and Kyle Brenn was a decent Toby. And George Lee Andrews was an awesome Mr. Fogg (though sadly uncredited; it took me a while to find who played the role, though I was sure I recognized him from somewhere).

Sadly, the others in the main cast didn't impress me much. I've never been a fan of Bryn Terfel; there are far better bass-baritones in the opera world, and I often found his acting ability very lacking even in roles where he didn't need to do all that much. Thus, he was awful -- nearly unwatchable -- as Sweeney Todd. I wish they had cast Philip Quast as Sweeney and Terfel (if he had been in the cast at all) as Judge Turpin... but alas. Jay Armstrong Johnson was like every non-Davis-Gaines Anthony for me in that I wasn't that impressed by his voice or acting, but something about his onstage persona made me instantly dislike him. I don't know what it was; I know nothing about the actor, and I give him the benefit of doubt in assuming he's a perfectly decent guy in real life, but there was something about his Anthony that rubbed me the wrong way. Between him and Terfel's Todd, it almost made me want to side with Judge Turpin... had to remind myself to separate my feelings about the actors from their characters there. :? As for Pirelli and the Beadle... I suppose they were okay; it's just that everyone else I've seen in those roles (and most of the ones I only heard without seeing them) were so much better.

In short, this is a concert I'm glad I saw, and the performers I liked may convince me to give it another go in the future. But the cast members I wasn't fond of (namely Terfel) ensure that if I'm really itching to see Sweeney Todd and can't get to a live show, I'll be much more likely to check out the 1982 or 2001 filmed performances instead.

Also among my gripes, the long vamped section in the opening "Ballad" (before "Swing your razor wide, Sweeney!") made me twitch, a lot. I know there was a reason for doing that because of the staging and attempted comedic value, but still. Never again, future Sweeney Todd musical directors, please. And additionally, the bleeping of the two occurrences of the word "shit" made me burst out laughing (as if Terfel's facial expressions weren't doing a good enough job of that already). So thanks for that, overzealous PBS censors! :lol:

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Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:40 am
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