Sunday Night Sondheim: “Johanna” quartet from Sweeney Todd

Here’s a clip from my favorite Stephen Sondheim musical, Sweeney Todd.


Notes from YouTube posting:

This clip is from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 1982 Tour Cast, starring Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett and George Hearn as Sweeney Todd, "Johanna (Quartet)", which is the "Johanna" in this recording. It begins with Anthony (Cris Groenendaal) reprising his "Johanna" from Act I before Sweeney (George Hearn) joins in. He sings a very sweet song about his lost daughter as he slits throat after throat. The contrast between his words and his actions is at once funny and sad.
Out comes the Beggar Woman (Sara Woods), who screeches and shouts about the stink and smoke from Mrs. Lovett’s (Angela Lansbury) chimney. She entreats passers-by to tell the Beadle and the police about the "unholy smell", but is mostly ignored.  Meanwhile, Johanna (Betsy Joslyn) is trapped in Fogg’s Asylum, still singing of her marriage to Anthony.

See all Sweeney Todd recordings and books here.

Review: Redtwist Theatre’s “Waiting for Godot”

The Four Everymen of the Apocalypse

VLADIMIR: We lost our rights?
POZZO: We got rid of them.

l-r: Bob Wilson (Estragon), Noah Simon (Pozzo), Andrew Jessop (Lucky), Mike Nowak (Vladimir)

What can any critic say about a nearly perfect production? It is practically complete; it hardly needs anything from another source. Redtwist Theatre, guest director Jim McDermott, and its cast have achieved a faithful, yet visionary rendering of Samuel Beckett’s modern classic, Waiting for Godot. What flaws exist, are so minor as to be trivial and, indeed, may simply boil down to different interpretations. Far outweighing any trifling objections, this production comes off as such a seamless whole, that one identifies with every character presented, realizing Beckett’s complete commentary on the human condition.

Noah Simon (Pozzo), Bob Wilson (Estragon), Andrew Jessop (Lucky) This Waiting for Godot looks backward as well as forward. Beckett’s greatest play is, without a doubt, informed by his desperate experiences in Europe during World War II. He ran from the Nazis, aided the Resistance, hid underground—enduring starvation, depression, suicidal thoughts, and the endless boredom and anxiety of waiting for salvation, from allies–from anyone. The barren landscape of the play, with its one tree, recalls the War’s environmental devastation. But that landscape also lies somewhere in our future, making Didi and Gogo, Pozzo and Lucky, four Everymen wandering in the desolate wilderness we are engendering right now.

Mike Nowak plays Vladimir with a light, soft touch. He does not go for every laugh possible from his character. Opportunity for clownishness is foregone for a realistic portrayal of a man suffering from all sorts of deprivation, except total loss of memory. This production heightens Didi’s ordeal as a man who remembers in the vacuum of all the other characters around him. Vladimir is the most alone because he has almost no one to witness to his experience. The toll of it4DidiGogoWeb builds unbearably. Neither Novak, nor McDermott’s direction, do anything to relieve the audience of that.

Even with levity provided by Gogo (Bob Wilson), one is impressed by how much Wilson’s gravelly voice and deliberate delivery lend his character gravitas. Estragon comes across more than ever as a Wise Fool. Is it stupidity that accounts for his moment-by-moment involvement in every pain, every bored agony, every miniscule pleasure, or a strange Zen-like acceptance that this moment truly is all there is or all that is left?

Noah Simon’s Pozzo is surprisingly human, for all the awful things he says. His cruelty toward Lucky is appalling; his fatuitous display of culture and learning, hilariously pretentious. His overall self-absorption, whether in his grief over Lucky’s  degradation or his recovery from that grief, is all too recognizable. This makes Pozzo 2TrioWeb less of a monster and more a man who truly knows not what he does. Which is monstrous—and human.

Andrew Jessop’s portrayal of Lucky lacks nothing in technique. What goes missing is simply some depth of experience that will obviously develop in an intensely focused actor very well on his way. Also, a young actor in the role of Lucky suggests the devouring of the young in a way that an older actor in the same role would not. Youth under a shock of white hair also lends his Lucky an otherworldly presence, although it is otherworldliness constrained, oppressed, and capitulating to oppression. This begs the question whether some true genius has been wiped out in its youthful promise. We cannot know what Lucky was or what he has lost. It becomes the question that haunts this performance.

Mike Nowak (Vladimir), Bob Wilson (Estragon) I could throw superlatives at this production all day long. But why bother? Just go see it. Redtwist Theatre has fulfilled its mission to produce great drama in a little black box theater space. For a couple of hours during this play, that little black box contains the whole world.

Rating: ««««


Redtwist Theatre production presents Beckett’s classic play. Featuring Mike Nowak (Vladimir), Bob Wilson (Estragon), Noah Simon (Pozzo), Andrew Jessop (Lucky), Adam Shalzi (Boy). Video includes Jimmy McDermott and Michael Colucci.

Random thoughts: Mozart, Michelle Obama, the office refrigerator


Pretty cool – Two newly discovered pieces of music written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a child were just performed in the Austrian city of his birth, Salzburg.


  • Ahhh…the joys of the dysfunctional office.  I can definitely see someone leaving a note like this (from Passive-Aggressive Notes) in the fridge at my work.  Makes me glad to be on vacation until the end of the month!!!!