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SWEENEY TODD

Music And Songs
"The music is so important,” says Zanuck. "The story is being told through the singing. We were determined that every cast member use his or her own voice. Everybody sings themselves.”

And yet apart from Laura Michelle Kelly, who plays the Beggar Woman, not one member of the "Sweeney Todd” cast was a professional singer. "Stephen Sondheim writes the most complicated music in the history of the musical theatre, so for these performers it's like a mountain climber climbing Mount Everest without oxygen and without Sherpas,” explains John Logan. To give all the actors something to rehearse to, music producer Mike Higham, who had previously worked with Burton on "Corpse Bride,” created a version of the score without any singing.

"To be able to hear the various layers, the string section, the horns, to hear them almost isolated, was a real eye-opener,” remembers Depp who laid down most of his songs as demos in Los Angeles before recording them again in London. "I didn't realize it was that complicated. Even when I saw it on stage, it didn't seem that complicated to me, or listening to the CD. But when you hear it without the vocals, there are these really incredibly dissonant chords.”

"When the harmonies happen, they're so beautiful because it sounds so unlikely,” says Bonham Carter. "But what I love is that there's always an emotional sense. I've got ‘Wait,' which is a lovely lullaby. It seems rather simple, but underneath it's horrible. The piano sounds so disturbed but that, of course, is the character of Sweeney's state of mind. A lot of themes and the unease and the fact it never resolves itself is a reflection of Sweeney's mind, heart and emotional landscape.”

The music was recorded over a four-day period at London's Air Studios and the 64-piece orchestra assembled for the film was the largest orchestra ever to have played Sondheim's score. "We added 30 violins, some more horns, a tuba, just to give it a bigger, fatter, wider sound,” Higham explains. "This is definitely its own unique thing.”

The recording sessions were overseen by Stephen Sondheim and conducted by his musical supervisor Paul Gemignani. "To sit there with Tim on one side and Stephen Sondheim on the other was a fascinating experience for all of us,” remembers Zanuck. "This was his arena because he can hear a flute that's slightly off, the same way that Tim can see out of the corner of his eye an extra one hundred yards away down the street.”

Once the score was laid down, the songs were next. But before any of the tracks could be recorded, the cast was required to rehearse for Sondheim who flew into London for a few days to hear them. "That was really nerve-wracking,” recalls Bonham Carter. "I'd been cast by him, then I had to sing for him. But thankfully, he was fine.”

Adds Timothy Spall, "I can sing, but I'm not a singer. To have to sing in front of him was a bit like doing ‘Hamlet' in front of Shakespeare, really.” Though Sondheim was naturally concerned about the musical adaptation, he was just as focused on the performers themselves. He explains, "I prefer actors who sing over singers who act. That doesn't always do the music good, but it does keep the story going and that's what I believe is important.”

The songs were recorded over a period of six weeks throughout November and December 2006 at Air Studios and Eden Studios, London. "I did the majority of songs in demo form in the studio in Los Angeles,” Depp explains, "then came to London and re-recorded them with the orchestra music. The process felt oddly natural to me, music being my first love and all.”

It was Bonham Carter, however, who had not only the most songs to sing, but arguably the most complicated ones too. Her character's signature song, "The Worst Pies in London,” required her not only to sing but to make an

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