Tag Archives: Musicals

How to be a Demon Barber 101, by Stephen Sondheim

My god. What television show did this come from? Here’s Stephen Sondheim himself giving a master class on his music (“My Friends” from Sweeney Todd in this particular clip) to aspiring theater actors; the performances are far from perfect — these are students, after all — but Sondheim’s unpacking of the song to reveal the perfect marriage of lyrics to music to the psychology of the character is nothing short of absolutely breathtaking.

And here’s the incomparable George Hearn (with Angela Lansbury) perfectly executing (ha!) the song as Sondheim envisions it:

Hearn also gives an outstanding concert performance of it here with Patti LuPone. I know many theater buffs think that Len Cariou best embodied the character; fair enough, but, just as Doctor Who fans gravitate to one actor or another as “their” Doctor, I suppose George Hearn is “my” Sweeney.

In any case, no matter what the cast or the production, the twisted beauty of Sondheim’s creation itself always shines through: sharp, cutting, painfully brilliant, and soaked in crimson — like a silver razor dripping precious rubies.

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