As Broadway's titular "Demon Barber of Fleet Street," Josh Groban's most difficult task every night of the current revival of Sweeney Todd is trying to sing after eating one of the show's "meat" pies. "I am a pescatarian and Annaleigh Ashford (the show's Mrs. Lovett) is gluten-free. So, they baked us specific, very L.A. meat pies with vegan, gluten-free flour. These pies are disgusting," he discloses with a smile.
"It's very dry, very crumbly. She gives me a pie in one of the scenes to eat. She's singing about how disgusting the pie is, and it's method. It is disgusting," he says. The audience breaks out into laughter. "There's a lot of hard things I have to do in this show. But, the hardest part of the show is I have to take a bite of this disgusting, crumbly, flaky pie and I have to somehow get it down. And then I have to sing this ballad called "My Friends."
Watch the video above to find out more about Groban's great challenge and how meeting other actors who have played Sweeney Todd.
The current production of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd, helmed by Tony-winning director Thomas Kail, opened at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre March 26 after beginning previews February 26. Based on the Christopher Bond play of the same name, the musical centers on its titular barber who seeks revenge on a corrupt judge and turns to murder. With the help of neighbor and accomplice Mrs. Lovett, they discover they can dispose of the evidence by serving up the most unsettling meat pies in all of London. Though Groban assumes everyone in the audience knows the dark tale, he can still hear the gasps and proverbial "clutching of pearls" as the story takes its twists and turns.
Groban also talks to Colbert about visiting NASA's launch facility in the clip below.
Groban shares the stage with Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford (You Can't Take It With You) as Mrs. Lovett, Jordan Fisher (Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen) as Anthony, Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things) as Tobias, Tony Award winner and Laurence Olivier Award nominee Ruthie Ann Miles (The King and I) as Beggar Woman, Maria Bilbao (On Your Feet!) as Johanna, Jamie Jackson (The Last Ship) as Judge Turpin, John Rapson (Les Misérables) as Beadle Bamford, and Nicholas Christopher (Hamilton) as Pirelli.
The ensemble includes Galyana Castillo, Jonathan Christopher, Taeler Cyrus, Timothy Hughes, Paul-Jordan Jansen, Alicia Kaori, Raymond J. Lee, Patricia Phillips, Samantha Pollino, Lexi Rabadi, Nathan Salstone, Kristie Dale Sanders, Stephen Tewksbury, Daniel Torres, Felix Torrez-Ponce, and DeLaney Westfall. Rounding out the company are swings Dwayne Cooper, Kyrie Courter, Michael Kuhn, Megan Ort, Mia Pinero, and Hennessy Winkler; and standby Jeanna De Waal.
The revival features Jonathan Tunick's full, 26-piece orchestration for the first time on Broadway since the 1979 original production, under the baton of three-time Tony winner Alex Lacamoire.
The original production, which debuted on Broadway in 1979, won eight 1980 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, along with Best Actor and Actress nods for original stars Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury. The work has gone on to be regarded by many as one of Sondheim's masterpieces, with its epic, operatic scale letting it be equally at home on the musical theatre stage as it is at the opera house. The musical was revived on Broadway in 1989 and 2005, and Off-Broadway in 2017, all presenting the work on a smaller scale with dramatically smaller orchestrations. A film adaptation, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, was released in 2007.
The production features choreography by Steven Hoggett, scenic design by Mimi Lien, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Natasha Katz, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, special effects design by Jeremy Chernick, and wig, hair, and make-up design by J. Jared Janas. Casting is by The Telsey Office, and Baseline Theatrical's Nick Lugo and James Hickey serve as general managers. Cody Renard Richard is production stage manager.
Jeffrey Seller leads the producing team, which also includes Bob Boyett, Diana DiMenna & Plate Spinner Productions/Aaron Glick, Eastern Standard Time, Roy Furman, Thomas Kail, Jim Kierstead/Benjamin Leon IV, and Tourdforce Theatrical. Maggie Brohn and Andy Jones are executive producers.