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  • Scott Carter Cooper

The Long-Awaited Sweeney Review

I was never the pretty one, the one who turned heads when he walked into a room. All that changed in New York when I saw a preview of Sweeney Todd and bought a hoodie emblazoned with the production’s logo.

Temperatures were moderate while I was there, so a hoodie was about the right weight for walking around Times Square. The day after seeing the preview, I wore my ST hoodie. The first stop was to The Museum of Broadway.

I’d been looking forward to this ever since its creation was announced. It was fine. Like much of this sort of thing, it seemed to be geared to a newly created Broadway fan, say someone planning to audition for the lead role in their high-school musical. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m a little past that stage of development. The museum is spread out over three or four floors and each floor has an enthusiastic docent. And on each floor, instead of being led throughout the exhibits, I was required to give an in-depth analysis of Sweeney Todd.

Is it good? Yes.

How’s Josh? He’s good. Sympathetic.

I hear Annaleigh steals the show. She’s working very hard, but it’s still in previews.

Ruthie? Heart-breaking.

The guy playing Antony? He should be doing Moulin Rouge.

Tobias? The guy should take the Tony.

There were other questions throughout the day. But these were the ones I was asked repeatedly.

We then walked down The Drama Bookshop and I was no more than six feet into the store when the manager descended on me wanting an instant review. The Drama Bookshop is holy ground for me. I know I can order books online, but… no. On my last trip I had to buy a suitcase to bring home all of the lucre.

I chatted with the manager, who was very nice, about the different New York productions of Sweeney and how they measured up to the original, and if this one would do justice to the memory of Stephen Sondheim (it does.)

He told me a story about how he and his staff made up some buttons saying something like “I survived Sweeney!” and stood outside the theatre as the cast arrived for the final dress rehearsal, handing out the buttons as they went into the theatre. It was all a ploy to be invited in to see the dress rehearsal. The mission failed, do he was dying for any inside detail.

His biggest question was, Is Annaleigh really old enough for the role? I’d say just barely. But that’s essentially true of the entire cast. Very youthful.

We had lunch at The Hardrock Cafe, the one place I would expect to be immune from such interrogation. No. The server was an actor. Very good at her job, and very very interested in

I’d say this show won’t inspire audiences, but it won’t disappoint either. Much like The Museum of Broadway, it will ignite the fervor of the newly converted Broadway enthusiast, but to the old war horses in the audience, it won’t offend.

And the hoodie is staying safely in the drawer until the show opens.

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