re: Why do you think Sweeney was unable to run without stars?
Posted by: AlanScott 11:32 pm EDT 04/12/24
In reply to: re: Why do you think Sweeney was unable to run without stars? - bobby2 10:45 pm EDT 04/12/24

I have never read that Jean Stapleton waqs offered the role, although I have posted here that I think she would have been a good choice as replacement and might have drawn better than Loudon, at least if paired with Richard Kiley, who was offered the replacement Sweeney gig. Do you know where you read that Stapleton was asked to be the replacement Lovett?

Fairly recently here, I posted the below, I think perhaps in response to a thread that you started:

Dorothy Loudon was on a career high, having triumphed in Annie. I think it was not altogether implausible that she would be something of a draw. I doubt anyone was under the illusion that the box office would not suffer without Lansbury and (to a lesser degree) Cariou, but I would think Loudon did not get paid what Lansbury was paid.

But there really was a shortage of star names who would have been right for the role and capable of its demands and probably even more of a shortage who would be willing to commit to an extended run in the role. I can think of two people who might have been right for the role and capable of its demands (at least for a short run): Jean Stapleton and Carol Burnett. Can you think of anyone else?

Stapleton eventually played the role for a short run in San Jose, but in 1980 she was in her upper 50s, almost three years years older than Lansbury. She may well have felt, if she was approached (I have no idea if she was), that she might not be up to an extended run performing the role eight times a week.

I have no idea if Burnett was thought of or approached, but her problems during Fade Out—Fade In might well have given them second thoughts about even approaching her. I very much doubt she would have signed on in 1980. And there would also be the question of whether her presence might throw the show off, unless a comparable name was found for Sweeney (and possibly even if one had been hired).

I think Burnett herself might well have been reluctant to risk being compared unfavorably to Lansbury, as you suggest might have been a concern for possible replacements.

The one other person might have been Estelle Parsons, who reportedly auditioned to be the replacement and reportedly was approached for the tour when Lansbury initially turned it down. She might have been an excellent Mrs. Lovett, but I don't think she would have been much of a draw. A name but not a draw.

I have said here before that I think the combination of Stapleton and Richard Kiley, who was approached to be the Sweeney replacement but turned it down, might have helped the box office remain reasonably steady for a while. Not sure that either one without a comparable co-star would have done all that much for the box office, but Kiley just might have, at least with a name opposite him. But given his unwillingness to play Quixote (Cervantes) more than seven times a week by the late 1970s, I can't imagine why they ever thought he would play Sweeney, arguably an even more demanding role, eight times a week.

Kiley and Parsons or even Kiley and Loudon together might have worked at the box office, although I think (entirely hypothetical) Kiley and Stapleton would have done best. Maybe not spectacularly but well enough.

The other person who was approached for Sweeney (apart from Hearn, an experienced and respected actor but not a draw at all), John Cullum, would not have been much of a draw. I am doubtful that the show would have done much better with Cullum and Loudon than with Hearn and Loudon.

As has been mentioned here in the past, Cullum turned down the offer, which he later said he regretted.

Previous: re: Why do you think Sweeney was unable to run without stars? - PlayWiz 08:43 pm EDT 04/16/24
Next: what about Julie Andrews? Shirley MacLaine? Rita Moreno? Gwen Verdon? - Chazwaza 02:04 am EDT 04/16/24

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