Soundtrack
Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street


5.0
classic

Review

by vanderb0b USER (63 Reviews)
June 20th, 2011 | 19 replies | 5,631 views


Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No, there’s no place like London, Mr. Todd, sir.

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

It is a musical’s role to take the viewer onto a journey into a new, exciting world; to let him escape the mundanity of everyday life and throw him into a universe where specters haunt opera theaters and village peasants venture through magical woods. Perhaps the most captivating of these worlds is that of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, which takes listeners on a macabre voyage into the very depths of Vicotrian London, a city where maniacal, vengeful barbers plunge their razors into the fleshy throats of dishonest judges, crazed beggar women prowl the streets cursing wrongdoers from their distant past, and demented cooks sing pleasant tunes as they turn their own customers into meat pies.

Sondheim paints a thoroughly depressing picture of London: poverty and disease fill the filthy streets, corruption plagues the police force, and innocent men are wrongly accused of terrible crimes. One such man is barber Benjamin Barker, who is sent to a far-off penal colony by the dishonorable Judge Turpin, who hopes to woo the barber’s beautiful wife. Fifteen years later, Barker returns to London and vows to take revenge on his malefactors with the help of failing chef Mrs. Lovett. Here begins a grisly story of murder, cannibalism, and hopeless love.

Sondheim’s frequently dissonant score is appropriately dark for the subject matter. The music, particularly during Todd’s songs, rapidly jumps from deafening fortes to eerie pianissimos. The barber’s actions are equally unpredictable: one moment, he sings a twisted love song to his razors, the next he shouts that everyone deserves to die and subsequently threatens to kill the audience.

However, the show also has a lighter, humorous face, which is embodied primarily in Mrs. Lovett, who’s numbers are mainly upbeat and serve as much-needed break from Todd’s misanthropic tirades. Unlike Todd, who only dreams of slitting Judge Turpin’s throat, Mrs. Lovett hopes to one day escape her dismal surroundings and move to a small cottage by the sea. From the syncopated ‘The Worst Pies In London’ to the waltz-like ‘A Little Priest,’ in which she dreams of baking various citizens into pastries, her songs offer a lighthearted contrast to Todd’s ire.

Of particular note is Sondheim’s use of leitmotif. Apparently, the score contains over twenty recurring melodies, but their repetition is used very tactfully; every time a theme is replayed, it has a specific purpose. Take for example the Johanna motif: first, it is introduced as an innocent love song, but it is soon reprised by the aging, perverted Judge, who performs it (while spying on a young girl and whipping himself) with a new, sinister edge.

Sweeney Todd creates a world unlike any other. Simultaneously disturbing and, in a slightly sick way, amusing, Sondheim’s London is a city in which the most ruthless killers can be seen as heroes. And it’s a city that you’ll want to return to over and over again.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
June 20th 2011



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Reviewing another musical, this one is my personal favorite, bar none. For those of you that have seen the film version, the original Broadway recording is far superior (though, the film ost isn't bad either).

As usual, I'd appreciate any criticism/feedback.

Fugue
June 20th 2011



7351 Comments


This one doesn't have Johnny Depp trying to sing so I'm down with it.

Asiatic667
June 20th 2011



4647 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

the next he shouts that everyone deserves to dies


That's the only mistake I could find, but I'm not much of a grammar scout.
Pretty good review though, for a great story. I've only seen the movie, which I love, but I'd really like to track this down.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2011



15275 Comments


omg a new vanderbob review

it feels like it's been forever

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2011



7134 Comments


Actually he just put out a review a couple of days ago.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
June 20th 2011



9033 Comments


What a ballin thing to review. Kudos for creativity. Didn't read it though, I won't lie.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2011



15275 Comments


IM SORRY IM NOT ON HERE EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY IRVING

; )

Asiatic667
June 20th 2011



4647 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

no, that's Blocs department

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2011



15275 Comments


Easy pos

vanderb0b
June 20th 2011



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Pretty good review though, for a great story. I've only seen the movie, which I love, but I'd really like to track this down.

Thanks! The movie was great, especially in terms of art direction. This is much better though, as the movie cut about half the music and the singers are stronger here.
omg a new vanderbob review

it feels like it's been forever

Indeed it does feel like a while. I'll be writing more often here for the next few months, though.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2011



7134 Comments


IM SORRY IM NOT ON HERE EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY IRVING

Weak.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2011



7134 Comments


(Also - great review Vanderb0b)

=)

vanderb0b
June 20th 2011



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, Irving!

=)

Jethro42
June 20th 2011



12351 Comments


Welcome back vander.

vanderb0b
June 20th 2011



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thank you, Jethro. It is indeed good being back here.

ProgressiveTheory
June 21st 2011



44 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review. Seems to end slightly abruptly but I think it's just how I'm reading it. I really enjoy the original Sweeney Todd soundtrack. It's not exactly genius to me, but I like it a lot.

Drsmith4
June 21st 2011



1710 Comments


I love reading reviews like this.



Fortheloveofmusic
July 7th 2012



491 Comments


Great review, this is probably my third favorite Sondheim musical after Company and Into The Woods.

ZedO
July 7th 2012



1096 Comments


love the movie



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