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re: 1994 BBC Radio “Sweeney Todd” (post edited 47 times in the last 11 minutes :) )
Last Edit: AlanScott 07:48 pm EDT 06/30/22
Posted by: AlanScott 07:37 pm EDT 06/30/22
In reply to: re: 1994 BBC Radio “Sweeney Todd” - Someday 09:33 pm EDT 06/29/22

There are a number of discrepancies in both lyrics and dialogue between the licensed materials and what was performed on Broadway, although the original published script stuck closely to what was performed on Broadway in 1979-1980, or at least what was written at the time, as some actors paraphrased lines (though not lyrics). (A couple of small changes were made near the end of the Broadway run, but not changing any words.) And the published script has accurate info about “The Contest,” which both Sondheim and Prince later forgot, both later giving the wrong impression that the tooth-pulling section was cut during previews of the original Broadway production. What was cut during previews was Pirelli's opening section, all of it, and then half of that was restored for London and the tour, although with a lyric tweak. The tooth-pulling section was cut for London and the tour. I often feel compelled to add when this subject comes up that I suppose it's possible that the tooth-pulling section was cut for a few performances during previews, although I doubt it, but if it was cut, it was put back by opening night and stayed in the production for the entire run.

And there are other differences in the published score. Some of the changes were made for London. Some of the Beggar Woman's bawdy Cockney slang was changed when Sondheim was told it was not authentic, and in some instances he chose to stick with stuff that was not authentic and some stuff that he invented.

Sondheim was never finished tweaking anything he wrote. In 2011, he tweaked “The Story of Lucy and Jessie,” one of his few tweaks that I think was an improvement.

There were several tweaks in the 1980 London production of Sweeney that were never heard again (or at least never published or put in the licensed materials), such as Sweeney singing “I want blood” rather than “I will have you,” but other tweaks for that production have stayed, although I suspect some productions use the earlier lines and/or words.

As for “fucking machine,” on a computer that has died I think I may have some more specific info, some of which I perhaps posted here long ago. Anyway, it was in the Royal National production and it was in the 2002 Kennedy Center production, but to my knowledge it never made its way into the licensed materials, and it is not in Finishing the Hat. I don’t know in what other productions, if any, it was used.

I am linking the great 1980 South Bank Show documentary The Making of Sweeney Todd, about the original London production.
Link The Making of Sweeney Todd
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