Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006

Music Revivals (British Style)

Brit director John Doyle has what might uncharitably be called a gimmick: he saves producers money on Sondheim revivals by having the cast double as the orchestra. But it works. Two of his shows, Sweeney Todd and Company came to Broadway this year, and they didn't merely prove that Patti LuPone can play the tuba and Raul Esparza may have a future as a cocktail pianist. They made two oft-revived shows seem brand new. If I give my vote to Company over the more highly praised Sweeney, it's because the device — all those actors scattered about the mostly bare stage, nursing their flutes and trumpets — seemed to perfectly echo Sondheim's theme of modern marrieds in a perpetual state of disconnection.