The Playgoer: Sweeney without Singers

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sweeney without Singers

Okay well, one reason the Sweeney Todd trailer may hide the fact it's a musical might be if the lead performers can't sing!

He [Tim Burton] gave Mr. Depp the album and asked, “Would you ever think about doing something like this?” He said Mr. Depp listened and responded, “I may sound like a strangled cat.” Mr. Burton took that as a yes.....

The plan was for him to work with a vocal coach, “do the scales and all that stuff.” But “it started to dawn on me that I [Depp] knew what Sweeney sounded like before, and I knew that it was up to me to go far away from that,” he said. “He needed to be, for lack of a better word, slightly more punk rock.”
Otherwise, Tim Burton tells NYT his film is definitely a musical and definitely Sondheim's--with even more music (augmented orchestra, full underscoring) and yet fewer songs. "Ballad of Sweeney Todd"? Cut. But Burton proves himself to be a real fan, and brought old Steve on board for approval every step of the way.

Some previews of Burton's approach:
“I always felt it was like a silent movie with music in it — those old black and white horror movies"...He talked with Mr. Depp, also a silents fan, about the approach; their touchstones were Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre, especially, Mr. Depp said, Lorre’s “creepy but sympathetic” surgeon in the 1935 thriller “Mad Love.” ...Mr. Burton asked the designer, Dante Ferretti, to recreate not Victorian London but horror-movie London.
But what am I personally looking forward to the most?
The red liquid latex [Depp's] razor sent spurting from the necks of Sweeney’s victims during the 50-day shoot last winter was, well, thicker than water. “You see it, you feel it, you hear it,” he said. “It wasn’t subtle.”
Punk rock & blood? There's some mention in the article of studio grumbling over an R-rated musical. I say, this might finally be a musical people who like movies will want to see!

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