In what will be her New York stage debut, English actress Emma Thompson will play the villainous Mrs. Lovett in the New York Philharmonic’s concert production of the macabre musical “Sweeney Todd.” She will be joined by opera star Bryn Terfel, Philip Quast Christian Borle. amNewYork spoke with Thompson.
How did you get involved in this staging?
Lonny Price, the director, approached me and I was rather diffident, but my mother insisted that I say yes. Thank the Lord.
What attracts you to playing Mrs. Lovett? What is your take on the character?
I’m playing Mrs. Lovett like a sort of female cage-fighter. She’s abused and abusive, desperate and hopeful, tragic and comic all in equal measures.
What took you so long to come to the New York stage?
I don’t know — family, I guess. It’s been the greatest thrill so far. When Bryn Terfel sang his first lines, I fell over.
Can you see yourself on Broadway anytime soon?
I am sure I will play this amazing city again — but what a way to start!
Why do you think “Sweeney Todd” is revived so often?
Because it’s kind of a perfect work. It’s a thriller that’s funny and demonic. People get eaten. There are great gags. The music is sublime. The question is why isn’t it done even more often?