The VBs will be returning to Mole Hill in Alstead, NH Saturday night to play one of our all-time favorite venues. The place is a former machine shop remade as a concert hall attended by a fantastic community of music lovers. The room is outfitted with nifty antique machines, and the casual, positive atmosphere begets great shows. The sweet green room is a plus, too. Good times. Check the FB event for more details.
The steampunk-before-steampunk-was-a-thing atmosphere at Mole Hill looks a bit like the set of my all-time favorite musical, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Telling the revenge tale of a London barber wrongfully imprisoned by a lecherous judge, Sweeney Todd is either dark, dark, dark comedy or a laugh-out-loud tragedy featuring fun plot twists, genuine horror, and some of the greatest music ever written. Tim Burton directed Johnny Depp as the title character in the film version a few years back, though nothing can top the original cast recording with the brilliant Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett, the goofy, hapless, desperate romantic who convinces Sweeney to kill people so she can make them into pies.
Listen to Lansbury’s introductory song, wherein she and Sondheim’s music/lyrics lay bare her entire character, most importantly: her pie business is failing and she’s more than a little nuts. Plus there’s a great joke about putting cats in pies. Angela’s timing here is impeccable (the orchestra hits in between words are Mrs. Lovett trying to smash the cockroaches populating her nasty Victorian-era London bakery), and her ability to fully paint her character with only her voice is truly amazing.
While Burton’s film version doesn’t do justice to the original, Edward Scissorhands and Hans Gruber kill it on the beautiful tune “Pretty Women” wherein Sweeney first attempts to exact revenge on the Judge. Again, the timing here is impressive, as the first half of the song is in the rare and tricky 5/8 time signature.
Another Angela Lansbury classic that you can’t help but sing along to. It cannot be overstated how great she is at acting while singing, no mean task. If I could sum up today’s blog, come to the show at Mole Hill, and Angela Lansbury is awesome.