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Sweeney Todd

It’s a long way from the Broadway stage to the movie screen, and watching Johnny Depp struggle through “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is simply not the way Stephen Sondheim’s Tony-Award winning musical should be seen. You’re bound to get a better, fresher take on the show when the Broadway Across America tour brings “Sweeney” to your city.

The story: Sweeney Todd was banished from London 15 years ago by the corrupt Judge Turpin, and now he’s returned and learned that his wife was poisoned and his daughter, Johanna, has become Turpin’s ward. With the help of his accomplice Mrs. Lovett, who proudly serves “The Worst Pies in London” at her meat pie shop, Sweeney reopens his barbershop and gets revenge on the society that’s wronged him by slitting the throats of unsuspecting customers.

We sat down with Mrs. Lovett herself, Broadway veteran Judy Kaye, to ask some silly questions about meat pies and ended up talking about John Travolta.

Have you seen the movie?

No, but the whole cast is excited about it. It looks very good. I think it’ll be fun for audiences to see the movie and the show and see the differences.

Please tell me you’re more attractive than the movie’s Mrs. Lovett, Helena Bonham Carter.

I look extremely different. I also have a couple years on her. The movie is set in Victorian England, and people didn’t bathe at all back then. Our production is gritty in a different way, and our show is set at an indeterminate time. My character is stuck in the 1960s – an east ender in London, the Chelsea area.

Mrs. Lovett makes the worst pies in London. What’s the worst pie you’ve ever had?

Good question. Pie is a big deal for me. I really love pie. But I did have an apple pie once that a friend made with salt instead of sugar. That was really gross.

What’s a worse way to die than getting your throat slit open?

An airplane crash.

What’s the worst thing about doing a British accent?

There’s nothing bad about it if you can do it. If you can only do a bad one you shouldn’t do it at all.

You also played Rizzo in the original road production of “Grease” in 1973. If Mrs. Lovett made a pie out of the Pink Ladies, what would it taste like?

Bubble gum.

Wasn’t John Travolta in that production? Was he weird?

Yes, he was in our company. He played Doody. We had a lot of notable people in that production: Marilu Henner was Marty and [Broadway director] Jerry Zaks played Kenickie. But I can’t tell you anything bad about Travolta that you can print, except that he loved to do practical jokes – he was the ring leader of all the boys, the class clown if you will.

Sounds like a natural Danny Zuko.

It was more foreshadowing of “Welcome Back Kotter” than it was him as Danny. He was a great dancer and a great singer. We could see he would be big.

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