Put in the theatre section, but of course watched on video
I thought I may have been being a little dangerous watching this so close to the new one being released, but I figured I’ve given it a good month in advance to give me time to “forget” it; and I felt slightly duty-bound to watch it first, even if it did make the new one pale slightly.
I needn’t have worried. Compared to the other filmed-for-TV Sondheim musicals I’ve seen (“Into the Woods”, “Sunday in the Park”, “Passion”), this has surprisingly large room for improvement. Though I’d looked forward to seeing a dressed version of the show with such a great cast, I’d honestly recommend the later concert version (in which George Hearn reprised the role of Sweeney with Patti LuPone as Mrs Lovett) more, let alone the live touring version I saw a few years ago (if that was good, I’m sure any version that comes by you will be fine; heck, the Kevin Smith directed portion in Jersey Girl with a 9-year-old girl as Mrs. Lovett was a thrill, lol, can we say unbreakable show?)
Really, I think once Tim Burton’s version is released, this one will really fade away. Hearn and Lansbury are a fine pairing as Todd and Lovett … but Lansbury’s work on the Original Broadway Cast recording is in my opinion much stronger, and like I said, Hearn in the later concert version; leaving the only reason to get hold of this recording that it is (at present) the only way to see a full, dressed production of the show in the comfort of your own home. I don’t know yet if Burton’s version will be as overwhelming a masterpiece as I expect it to be … but it would be a shock if it doesn’t at least blow this recording out of the water. That said, of course, the show here is as powerful as ever. The ending never fails to shake me, almost as if I never see it all coming. So much is held for the last precious moments and it just all comes crashing down at once. I really can’t wait to see how that is dealt with in the new movie – most particularly on Johnny Depp’s part.