December 3, 2000

Sweeney Todd: Live at the New York Philharmonic nominated for Grammy

Recording Stars Patti LuPone, George Hearn, and Audra McDonald - New York Philharmonic Special EditionsTM Release was recorded live in Avery Fisher Hall by the New York Philharmonic in May 2000

Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: Live at the New York Philharmonic, starring Patti LuPone, George Hearn, and Audra McDonald, and conducted by Andrew Litton, has been awarded a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Musical Show Album. Recorded live at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, during performances celebrating Stephen Sondheim's 70th birthday in May 2000, the two-CD-set is the first recording of Sweeney Todd by a symphony orchestra, and the first complete recording of the musical since the 1979 original Broadway cast recording.

The performances were directed by Lonny Price, with a cast that includes Audra McDonald as the Beggar Woman; John Aler as the Beadle; Davis Gaines as Anthony Hope; Heidi Grant Murphy as Johanna; Neil Patrick Harris as Tobias Ragg; Stanford Olsen as Pirelli; and Paul Plishka as Judge Turpin, with the New York Choral Artists. Patti LuPone portrays Mrs. Lovett, and George Hearn is Sweeney Todd.

"When the New York Philharmonic first approached me about their performing a staged concert of Sweeney Todd with a cast recruited from both the opera and Broadway worlds, I was in quick succession stunned, proud, delighted, and anxious," noted Mr. Sondheim. "The virtuosic playing of the instrumentalists and the intense performances of the principals and chorus, combined to make the three performances of Sweeney Todd extravagantly thrilling - certainly for me, and judging from the rapt attention and explosive applause in Avery Fisher Hall, for the audiences, too. I was thrilled, however, that these performances were recorded and am especially proud that the recording has now been honored by a Grammy nomination."

"For my first Sondheim role, I couldn't be happier," said Patti LuPone of the Grammy nomination. "Sweeney Todd was, from the beginning, a total surprise to me," commented George Hearn. "It has never stopped surprising me. To be asked to perform it with the New York Philharmonic and that wonderful cast was the biggest surprise of all. It certainly was the high point of my career. Just when I thought the surprises were over, along comes the Grammy nomination!"

Said conductor Andrew Litton, "The Sweeney Todd recording captures the excitement of 'being there' at Avery Fisher Hall, and I am delighted that it has been nominated."

Zarin Mehta, the New York Philharmonic's Executive Director, observed, "We are honored by this nomination and delighted that America's first orchestra is being recognized in the Musical Theater category. All of New York was abuzz about these concert performances of Sweeney Todd, and I'm so pleased that this great musical event has been captured on this remarkable CD set."