For those who wondered what all of that singing was doing interrupting the graphic murders in Tim Burton’s grisly and humorless slasher film “Sweeney Todd, ” Stephen Sondheim’s original work is back in town complete with all of the music and humor that was cut from the film with as much tact as if old Sweeney himself had been doing the chopping. No, this isn’t the full boat version served up with full chorus and orchestra as done here by the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia and at Lyric Opera, this is the scaled-down Broadway chamber music version on a national tour where a talented cast of nine sings each role and plays the musical accompaniment on stage along with themselves. It’s a considerable feat, the kind of concept that would be perfect for a more intimate theater but which becomes somewhat lost in the wings of a cavernous house such as the Cadillac Palace. For those who know and love the work, this virtually cabaret-like treatment will be a treat and a meaningful, even if a stiff and concert-like rendering of what is arguably Sondheim’s greatest work. But for those new to the story and the work, the entire cast remaining on stage for the entire show and playing instruments even after a said character has already been, say, killed off, will be a dramaturgical disaster for keeping track of who’s who and what’s what. But if the Demon Barber of Fleet Street can survive undubbed movie stars hacking their way through a truncated score, this approach is a long way up from such cut-throat treatment. (Dennis Polkow)
At Cadillac Palace, 151 W. Randolph, (312)902-1400. This production is now closed.