Saw her on stage last Spring on what she said would be her last tour, when she played Madame Arcati in Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit. She won Tony and Olivier awards for that role. Saw her at Kennedy Center in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. That one earned her a Tony and a Drama Desk “Best Actress” award.
But my favourite Lansbury performance was in a film. As Eleanor Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate, she created one of the all-time great movie monsters.
Two final items, and then no more Into the Woods postings until after the holidays. The movie’s release is only a few days away, so it’s time for me to start obsessing about something else. I hear there’s a show called Better Call Saulthat I might be interested in catching….
Here are the first five minutes of the New York Philharmonic’s concert presentation of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, w/Emma Thompson, Bryn Terfel, and Audra McDonald.
I first saw Sweeney at the Kennedy Center on its post-Broadway tour, w/Angela Lansbury as Mrs Lovett. She won a Tony for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for originating the role on Broadway, and when PBS broadcast a taped version, it got her an Emmy nomination as well.
I’ve seen more than half a dozen revivals of Sweeney since then, but that first time was memorable for more than just the magnificent theatrical experience. The week I saw Sweeney marked the end of a pretty unhappy time in my life, when I finally broke out of a long period of depression and self-imposed isolation. I came out of it in just about the best way I can imagine: Within a few days, I saw not only this masterpiece, but also Bruce Springsteen, live at the Capital Center. Springsteen was at his peak, playing four-hour concerts that exhausted his worshipful audience.
So I experienced two monumental 20th Century cultural high points in a single week.
PBS broadcasted the full Lincoln Center performance, and someone has posted it to YouTube.
I wonder if this was intentional. There’s a new teaser for Disney’s version of Into the Woods, but it was released by Disney Australia. Strange. Let’s see if the video stays up or or if Disney has it removed.
Anyway, you can ignore the “January 2015” opening date at the end of the trailer. Australia’s in a different time zone. so they’re a couple of weeks behind us “Down Under”.
Two things jump out about the video: No one sings—The songs from the play are only hinted at in the background music. And it looks like Disney is really trying to keep Johnny Depp’s look as the Wolf a secret until the film is released. The most we see in the video or the stills is a paw reaching around a tree.
Disney has released a few more stills from the film version of Stephen Sondheim – James Lapine musical Into the Woods, which is set for release on Christmas Day 2014. There have been rumours that Disney has lightened the story to make it more “family-friendly”—you can bet that the Wolf will no longer be anatomically correct, as he was in the original—but Sondheim says he and Lapine, “worked out every change from stage to screen with the producers and with Rob Marshall, the director…I can happily report that it is not only a faithful adaptation of the show, it is a first-rate movie”.
Looks gorgeous, doesn’t it?
James Corden as the Baker and Meryl Streep as the Witch.
MacKenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel.
Lucy Punch and Tammy Blanchard as Cinderella’s evil stepsisters and Christine Baranski as her evil stepmother.
Corden with Lilla Crawford as Red Riding Hood.
Daniel Huttlestone as Jack and Tracy Ullman as his mother.