Sweeney Todd and other PBS faves

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Phil Florian, Sep 2, 2001.

  1. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Screenwriter

    Mar 10, 2001
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    I was wondering if anyone had a good source to get copies of cool shows that made it to PBS back in the day (okay, the 80's). I remember seeing a recorded performance of the hip Sondheim musical "Sweeney Todd" that starred George Hern and Angela Lansbury. It was wonderful (though it did commit the sin of tight shots on actors which, to me, is a big no-no for a staged performance). I have seen a tape of it a decade ago at a video store, but since then can't find it. There was another show I heard of tape of (was someone's audio dub of a PBS performance) a show called "Alice in Concert" which starred Meryl Streep as Alice. It was, I am told, an abstract performance of the Alice in Wonderland story without flashy costumes etc. I have looked all over online, including searches under the author for this last show, and can find no way to get these performances. Are these "dead" performances meant for a one-time showing? Or are there archives of these things that the public can access? Crossing my fingers!
    [Edited last by Phil Florian on September 02, 2001 at 08:51 AM]
    [Edited last by Phil Florian on September 02, 2001 at 08:52 AM]
  2. Dave Dahl

    Dave Dahl Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 30, 1997
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    Ah yes...Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
    Without a doubt my favorite musical of all time. That being said you are right in that it was recorded in the early 80's with Angela Landsbury and George Hearn. That recording won him a well deserved Emmy award. The video was released by Image Entertainment with the rights were owned by Turner Networks. Alas it is no longer in print and hasn't been for at least eight years.
    You do bring up a good point about the lack of Broadway shows being available on video. I imagine it has a lot to do with the Actors Guild and royalty payments. Obviously every Broadway production is filmed for historical reasons but very few are released to the general public. The only composer that I know of whose works are at all available at those of Stephan Sondheim. On DVD these include: Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods. These were also, along with Sweeney Todd, available on laserdisk and I believe videotape. Passions was broadcast on PBS but as far as I know never made to video.
    I long to get Sweeney on DVD and until then I will have to keep my laserdisk player for this one performance. For me this is a really interesting subject because, although the show won six Tony awards it lost money both on Broadway and the National touring production it is regarded my many critics to be the finest work Sondheim has created. Maybe it's just too dark of a subject for the mainstream.
    I do know that on October 31st PBS will be broadcasting Sweeney Todd in concert. This was a concert version of the show with some of the same actors as the original Broadway run. I had the pleasure of seeing it at The Ravinia Festival near Chicago last week (starring George Hearn and Patti Lupone) and it was nothing short of freaking spectacular. With luck that will be released on DVD in the near future.
    [Edited last by Dave Dahl on September 02, 2001 at 10:48 AM]
    [Edited last by Dave Dahl on September 02, 2001 at 11:45 PM]
  3. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

    Jul 6, 1997
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    Steve Tannehill
    Passion was filmed just after it closed on Broadway, and it was released to video shortly after the PBS broadcast. I have the laserdisc. The VHS is still available at Amazon.
    If you are a student or researcher, I believe you can go to the New York Public Library and request access to that large archive of Broadway shows on video. The shows are recorded for posterity, not for duplication, and the last time I heard about it, you had to watch them on-premises.
    - Steve
    Got Remo?

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