Johnny Depp

Sweeney Todd [The Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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The soundtrack for Tim Burton's film of Stephen Sondheim's musical thriller Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is reasonably close in content and spirit to the original musical, which was released in 1979 on RCA. Starring Johnny Depp as the vengeful Sweeney and Helena Bonham Carter as pie-maker Mrs. Lovett, this adaptation could boast no finer leads, for they inhabit their roles with remarkable sympathy and pathos, and their singing is subtly expressive, rhythmically accurate, and usually on pitch, too. However, in comparison with the original stars, Depp's snide growls are less convincingly gut-wrenching than Len Cariou's howls, and Bonham Carter's portrayal is somewhat gentler and milder than Angela Lansbury's sharp characterization. The rest of the cast presents some entertaining highpoints, notably those by Sacha Baron Cohen as the bombastic Pirelli, and the versatile Alan Rickman as the odious Judge Turpin. But highest honors go to treble Edward Sanders as Tobias, who delivers "Pirelli's Miracle Elixir" and "Not While I'm Around" with scene-stealing aplomb and sings with superb technique and a beautiful tone. Fans of the show will miss the chorus "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd," as well as the Judge's obsessive "Johanna," and Beadle Bamford's "Parlor Songs," but the rest of the songs are accounted for, and the orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick are faithfully conducted by Paul Gemignani, who leads a skilled studio orchestra. Nonesuch's sound is rich and atmospheric, though a little subdued in some tracks, requiring a few careful volume adjustments.

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