The soprano Sarah Rice, who originated the role of Johanna in Sweeney Todd, is interviewed this week in a fascinating article for Broadway World. In it, Rice talks fondly of her time on the show – nearly one year – and the impact that Sondheim and director Hal Prince had on her career (“[they] were like the gods of my idolatry and to actually get to work with them was truly a dream come true.”)
Rice also reveals how particular Sondheim was with his lyrics:
“Ten o’clock in the morning, I’m up on the damn platform off-book for the first time doing ‘Green Finch’ and I sang, ‘How can you refrain staring at the rain?’ instead of ‘How can you remain staring at the rain?’ because I couldn’t think of the word so I did something that kind of sounded like it. Sondheim came back and said, ‘If you knew what you were singing about, you wouldn’t have made that mistake!’ Of course, that stuff stays with you forever, right? He’s just a real stickler for those lyrics.”
Sondheim has remained an important part of Rice’s career, as she performs his work regularly at Feinstein’s Sondheim Unplugged and Into Sweeney Todd’s Woods cabarets.
It’s a fascinating Q&A if you’re a fan of Sondheim or anyone keen to find out more about the life of a jobbing crossover soprano. You can read the full Q&A here.