Saturday, September 01, 2007


Are movie musicals back in Hollywood's good graces? Looks like it, with the steady stream of stage blockbusters hoofing and belting their way to film studios. Quality-wise, though, it remains a hit-and-miss affair. Let's see: “Chicago,” yes! “The Producers,” no. “Dreamgirls,” hell, yeah. “Rent,” so-so. “Phantom of the Opera,” ho-hum. “Hairspray,” hooray!

Who'd think that that devilishly difficult musical, Stephen Sondheim's “Sweeney Todd,” is up next? Cast and crew led by star Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton reportedly wrapped up work on the film in UK last July, and a release date has been set for December 2007. Come that date, this riveting poster is what we'll all gawk at in the malls:

By the way, Johnny Depp singing the legendary near-operatic score, arguably Mr. Sondheim's musical masterpiece? (Others would say it is opera.) Not only he, but the rest of the cast, apparently, which also includes Helena Bonham-Carter (as Mrs. Lovett), Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Borat), Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Laura Michelle Kelly. A previous Dreamworks statement maintained that “All the stars will do their own singing from Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics.” Aver nga!

If this blog is to be believed, Mr. Sondheim himself is pleased with the film. Emphasis on the qualifying preface, because while Certifiably Creative quotes Mr. Sondheim liberally, it doesn't say who interviewed him, except to mention that “He was speaking at Sydney's Theatre Royal last Friday.” I'm guessing the quotes also came from a studio release, but anyway...

“Sometimes a story or stage production has to wait a long time until the right people come together to turn it into a motion picture. That's what has happened with 'Sweeney Todd' and I'm excited as well as confident that it will be a first-rate and startling movie,” said Mr. Sondheim.

Also, “There are songs that have been cut, and cuts within some of the songs, but generally it is pretty much the score,” he says, after having seen the screenplay adaptation by John Logan. “The plot is very little changed... It is pretty faithful.”

As to why he was letting Tim Burton take a crack at his most enduring work: “Film is a director's medium and I would not have the patience to direct even if I had the talent for it.”

Mr. Burton, of course, is known for his dark, sensuously sinister movies (“Sleepy Hollow,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Batman” and “Batman Returns”), which is also what “Sweeney Todd” is--dark, sinister, sensuous, not to mention soaring and thrilling. “It has got a lot of blood in it and that's fine by me,” Mr. Sondheim declared of the film. This we've got to see.

In the meantime, here's a still photo of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett in a huddle, hatching perhaps their next big serving of human meat pies. Yum!

(Thanks, Ralph Pena, for the pic!)


snglguy said...

You forgot to mention "Evita", with Madonna in the lead role... *barf*

Borat in a movie musical? Now THIS I got to see!

neodv8 said...

As the author of "this blog" I would like to mention two things...

Firstly the "tone" of this post is a tad arrogant given that you obviously haven't done your research properly and secondly I was there at the mentioned interview in Sydney which was also televised on Australia's ABC for the Arts Program. the link being

As a working Theatre Practitioner I find it sad that once again personal opinion overrides others' words and conclusions are reached based on nothing more than self proclaimed "pomposity".

We in the industry should help one another not alienate each other with uneducated gossiping and bad mouthing.

neodv8 said...

Apologies the link is here:

gibbs cadiz said...

NEODV8, thank you for your comment. apologies if you felt slighted, not my intention. btw, am not a theater practitioner, am a journalist who happens to cover theater. i reread your post several times and several other entries because i wanted to find proper attribution for the interview, but i couldn't. there were also no relevant links in the entry. since i wanted to excerpt mr. sondheim's quotes, i had to qualify upfront that it's not clear to me who made the interview. sorry if you felt i was being 'pompous.' but thank you for clearing up the matter with the right links. i invite you to read my blog as well to know that i do support theater wholeheartedly. cheers. :)

Cyberpunk said...

i am looking forward to seeing Sweeney Todd. It looks very promising. And of course, there's Johnny Depp :D

erasmusa said...

the film will be gruesome, but i'm excited to hear them sing, especially alan rickman. i saw the beautiful laura michelle kelly do a duet with michael ball last monday. i wonder how she'll look like as the beggar woman onscreen.

Anonymous said...

madonna in evita, was commendable i think.


M.N.Yano said...

Just hopping in. Say, are we on for some blog-bloodletting for Sweeney Todd?! :) Oh boy, can't wait...:P

Ralph Peña said...

huh? i don't get the comment about the post being arrogant. i certainly didn't get that at all. it's a pretty straightforward speculation about how the film may turn out -- given the traps of adapting stage musicals to the screen, and the requirements of a fairly demanding score that, at first blush, wouldn't fall into the ouevre of depp and bonham carter.

besides, i read this blog for opinions. i want to hear what the writer thinks, not some sanitized press release. I'll take opinionated and snarky, over supportive and bland any day.

Shinji said...

Did Johnny Depp record his own voice for this one? Can he even sing? I do know that he has a band and plays musical instruments, but I don't know if he could sing.

He did star in a musical once. Cry-Baby was full of camp. But Johnny only lip-synced to the songs. Nevertheless, it's tim burton. I'm pumped about it.

AnneMac said...

I am not a fan of stage musicals turned movies as well. Agree that it's been a hit and miss thing (Oh, but I don't agree with your comment on RENT! Grrrr. Hehehe. But I'm super with you on Hairspray!). With this, maybe Johnny Depp will be the key. :)

Oh and about the "arrogant" comment above...aba, baka ikaw na ang next Malu Fernandez! Mwahahaha!

carlotta said...

i heard about the movie version last year. can't wait to watch it. =)

bagay na bagay kina johnny depp at helena bonham carter yung roles na yun. if i'm not mistaken they were also the voices for the main characters sa the corpse bride.

alohapenny said...

i loooove johnny depp, so looking forward to this.

gibbs cadiz said...

CYBERPUNK, hehe, see you at the movies! :)

ERASMUSA, yeah, the idiosyncratic alan rickman--i'm thinking he might end up stealing the show from the rest. he nearly always does. :)

RYAN, hmmm, with the passing of time, it's only antonio banderas that i continue to like in that movie. :)

JUN, blog blood-letting? haha, wag naman! ps. how's pao? wahehe! :)

RALPH, thanks a lot for the comment. :)

SHINJI, my own question exactly. he has sung with a rock band. how would he transition to sondheim? i'm quivering with anticipation, hehe. :)

ANNEMAC, haha, wag naman, buti na lang i don't spritz on jo malone! :)

CARLOTTA, you're right, and the corpse bride was a fine movie! :)

ALOHAPENNY, you too, huh? :)

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