A Little Priest - Sweeney Todd (1982)
So, I like the movie version of Sweeney Todd. Unlike a lot of stage musicals made into movies, I think it made the translate into a film very well … which probably had a lot to do with Sondheim himself having some say in things, since he notoriously hates a lot of film versions of stage musicals, being that he’s a huge film fan as well. I thought Johnny Depp acquitted himself very well on the vocals. No he wasn’t George Hearn or Len Cariou, but I thought he held his own. I was especially impressed with his version of the song “Epiphany,” a song that is quite hard to sing since, for half of it, you’re singing counterpoint to the orchestra and, therefore, have little to no support.
But if there was one thing I could point to about it that I didn’t like, it was the excluding of most of the hysterical funny punny dialog during “A Little Priest.” I remember getting into a disagreement with someone on a movie forum I used to post to a lot about the fact that they cut it when I preview clip of the song was released. They insisted the dialog was still there, I could tell by the way the score was playing that it had clearly been cut. And I was vindicated when I was able to get some early preview screening tickets for it and went to see the movie about two and a half weeks before it opened wide.
The video of above if from the filming of the original tour of the show back in the early 80s, and the first version of the show I ever saw … about 10 years before the movie was made. And this song was pretty much where I fell in love with the show … and even more in love with Stephen Sondheim. It was just so clever and funny, and yet still grim all at the same time. (If there is one thing that creeps me out above anything, it’s even just the implication of cannibalism, never mind people actually performing the actual act of it). And I do love the attention the movie brought to the show (as I understand, it’s now the Sondheim show that is most performed in High Schools these days, passing Into the Woods now).