Sweeney Todd Movie vs Musical

With the new London production of Sweeney Todd receiving glowing reviews from all corners we thought it was time to compare the show with the 2007 Tim Burton movie adaptation. Although both use the same fantastic source material they are both very different…see which one we thought was the best and leave your comments below! For more information on the work of Tim Burton – visit the director’s official website.

Sweeney Todd Musical Sweeney Todd Movie
The Music The stage musical has one of the boldest Broadway scores ever heard, using a mix of genres and styles to create an unforgettable sound. From full chorus’s to semi-operatic arias this show really does have everything you could wish for in a musical. The haunting ‘Dies Ire’ inspired main theme is reprised throughout the show by the ensemble, creating a thematic build to Sweeney’s ultimate downfall. Jonathan Tunick’s ever careful orchestrations swell in all the right places, leaving moments of bliss for every humorous line to be heard. Imelda Staunton’s performance of ‘A Little Priest’ in the current London production is so clear and precise that audiences are left giggling as they begin to pre-empt each rhyme, delivered with perfect comic timing and vocal skill. Although the movie features most of the solo numbers from the score the choral and ensemble passages are all cut to fit the style of the film. The more difficult passages such as the Quartet and ‘Kiss Me’ are omitted altogether, which do nothing for the blandness of either Anthony or Johanna’s character. The film misses key moments such as ‘God, That’s Good’ as well as the reprises of the opening Ballad. The Judge’s song is also sadly cut, meaning his character is not given the depth and shock value that the musical allows.
The Horror The current London production uses excellent stage effects to show the killings of each of Sweeney’s victims. The gruesome stage blood does however lead to nervous laughter in the audience, which ultimately ruins the moment. The atmosphere is expertly created by the onstage ensemble who direct focus at key moments. The leads both bring a comic touch to the roles, and rather than appearing sinister, Staunton’s Lovett is more of a demonic Mrs Overalls.  Through the medium of film horror can be easily presented. With the film rated an 18 certificate, gruesome sights have to be expected. Blood squirts rather than drops, with the glowing red standing out against Burton’s pretentious black and white filter. Depp swings his razor wide slaying almost everything in his sight, resulting in some stomach churning scenes which go above and beyond what can be presented onstage.
The Cast Throughout the show’s history a wide range of incredible talent has brought each character to life. From the glorious original production which starred Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou to Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris in the Broadway revival – each duo brings with them a new life and energy. The current London cast is one of the best ever put together, with Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton both giving career defining performances. Both are experienced Sondheim performers and handle the piece with such confidence and dexterity that it is a joy to observe. A strong supporting cast bring the piece to life, fleshing out weaker characters and adding to the faultless production. Who does Director Tim Burton turn to first when making a new film? No prizes for guess that nepotism once again wins the day. So rather than presenting a musical with actors who can sing, he uses his tried and tested pairing of Johnny Depp and Helena-give-me-an-Oscar-Bonham-Carter to butcher two of the most sought after roles in the musical theatre canon. Neither is right for the role in any way, neither are capable of singing it without the aid of their friend Mister Auto Tune. The result is Sondheim’s incredible score reduced to what sounds like karaoke night in Romford, Accents and all. Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall manage to shine through the dirt as Judge Turpin and Beadle Bamford, with Jamie Campbell Bower and Jayne Wisener as the sickening love duo. A Disaster.
The Experience The critical praise for ‘Sweeney Todd’ is almost unanimous. Seeing the show once again in the West End is priceless. Don’t miss the theatrical event of the year! Any attempt to bring a Sondheim work to a wider audience should be commended, although producers found themselves in trouble due to ‘miss marketing’ of the film in the beginning. Many audience members were unclear that it was a musical, resulting in a new wave of followers for the genre along with some walkouts and protests. Seeing the show on the big screen and hearing a full orchestra almost forgave the movie its many errors. 
OVERALL The musical is thrilling, exciting and intricate. Fantastic staging combined with a tragic story makes for perfect entertainment. With a solid ensemble and leads with real star quality this a show not to be missed! The film has to be commended for effort and its attempt to stay true to a distinct style and form. Sondheim musicals never fare too well on the big screen, so its nice to see the work brought to a new audience. Tim Burton treats the piece with integrity, and aside from the two leads succeeds in creating a splendid movie musical.

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