“The theater is magical and addictive.”
– English-American actress, singer, and producer, Angela Lansbury, was born on this day in 1925.
Angela Lansbury originated the role of Mrs. Lovett in the original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in 1979.
I first saw her in this role in the version that was filmed in L.A. and broadcast on PBS in 1982. I’m not sure if I actually saw the first broadcast, but I’ve seen it multiple times since. And of course I’ve seen the film version with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, as well as last year’s concert adaptation.
To put it mildly, I love this show.
And, ever since I first saw it back sometime in the 1980s, I’ve wanted to be in this show. I put it on my Bucket List.
I’ve said before that I’d always dreamed of playing the lead. But I know that I’ve aged out of the role. And yes, I know I’ve already written about this.
So, I’m delighted that a week from tonight (yikes!), I’ll be opening with Panglossian Productions staging of Sweeney Todd; The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in the role of Judge Turpin.
On a side note, if you’re staging my other Bucket List shows I have not aged out of the roles of Tevye or Edna.
I’m just sayin’.
Around this time last year, when I was getting ready to open in Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure I’m pretty sure I said that Dr. Watson was my most challenging role to date. It certainly was.
Sure, I’ve played a judge before. In The Chalk Garden, I was a lovable old coot. In Parade, I was a harsh judge who later came to regret his decision. Unfortunately for Leo the regret didn’t come soon enough.
But Judge Turpin is one mean ol’ S.O.B. I told someone the other day “everything that happens in the play is my fault.”
I’m loving the challenge.
I don’t know when I first realized the magic of the theater. I tend to think it was when I fell in love with Sally Bowles.
But, I agree with Aunt Jessica, as I sometimes like to call her.
Think about it. I’ll wait.
There’s just something about the rush of adrenaline that happens when you’re getting ready to go out on stage. You’ve rehearsed for weeks. You know your lines. You know your blocking. You’ve got your costume. You’ve got your makeup.
And in this case, I’ve got really, really, long gray hair.
There are only six chances to see our production. You should get your tickets now.
And, when the final curtain falls?
Well, I’ll be off to rehearsals for my next two productions. Both of which happen before Christmas.
Yes, you’ll hear about them.
As for what I’m doing in the new year? I don’t know yet.
When I first branched out into traditional theater I used to worry about the next performance.
After being involved in six productions in 2015, I’m not so worried any more.
That’s not arrogance. It’s just the reality of knowing that there will be more opportunities. I don’t yet know what or where they are. But somewhere along the line, somebody is going to need an old judge.
That’s part of the magic.
And the addiction.