DC’s Landless Theatre Company, currently developing a Prog Metal Version of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, announces that the prog metal orchestration is being written by a team of arrangers known as The Fleet Street Collective.
The seven members of The Fleet Street Collective are DC-based metal musicians Lance LaRue, Ray Shaw and Alex Vallejo; Philadelphia-based world musician Spencer Blevins; UK composer and recent NYU Musical Theatre Writing Program Graduate Andrew Siddle; LTC’s Artistic Director Andrew L. Baughman; and Charles W. Johnson, who serves as Music Supervisor and Music Director for the production.
After DCMTA broke the news last Februrary that Mr. Sondheim had granted Landless permission to develop the Prog Metal Version, it quickly spread to NY Times and Playbill. Landless received a flood of inquiries from many prospective arrangers, including major music industry producers, Grammy and Tony Award-winning orchestrators.
“We took a long time exploring all of the options,” said Director Melissa Baughman. “In the end, we followed the advice of our friend Richard Campbell [Composer of Richard Campbell’s Frankenstein, LTC’s 2013 prog metal opera production], who suggested we might do best to draw upon the chemistry and talent of the musicians we brought together to perform the intricate Frankenstein score. It turned out to be a wise decision, because not only will they be playing Sweeney, they also know how to write to each others’ strengths in performance.”
While most of the Collective worked together on last year’s Frankenstein production, Blevins and Siddle were “collected” along the way. Blevins will be traveling from PA this summer to play a guitar part in the band, and Siddle has been collaborating with the team via internet from his home in the UK.
“I was asked by an actor friend to help him audition for this production by arranging and recording a metal version of ‘The Ballad of Sweeney Todd’ with him,” said Andrew Siddle. Landless was so impressed with his arrangement that they sought out Siddle to join the creative team.
“Each member brings a unique skill-set to compliment the others,” said Melissa Baughman. “We began the development process by outlining key numbers that we wanted to really ‘prog up’ for the production, and those were primarily assigned to the metal arrangers. Andy [Baughman] took on some of the actor-driven numbers like “Worst Pies In London,” and Andrew [Siddle] tackled much of the connective material, as well as some key numbers that demonstrate his versatility in a variety of genres.”
Arranging the 400 page score was no easy feat to achieve in three months. The Collective was able to “divide and conquer” the material, but much work remains to be done in rehearsal to refine the orchestration.
“Our goal is to take Mr Sondheim’s work and simply inject it into the prog-metal idiom,” said arranger Lance LaRue. “We’ve managed to preserve nearly every lyric and melody as originally written while ‘progging’ the orchestration. Sondheim fanatics will find it extremely familiar while the Prog-heads will feel right at home with the chunky 7-string guitar, double-kick drums and extended-range bass lines.”
A complete draft of the Prog Metal Version score has been submitted to Mr. Sondheim for his feedback and direction. Mr. Sondheim has already approved some cuts and changes to the text for the production. Look for a cast announcement on DCMTA in the coming weeks.
And how did the name “Fleet Street Collective” come about?
“I was reading an article about [actor] Benedict Cumberbatch,” admits Melissa Baughman. “He was displeased with his fan club’s moniker of ‘Cumberbitches,‘ and the name was changed to the ‘Cumbercollective.’ It had a nice ring to it.”
Tickets are now on sale for SWEENEY TODD – Prog Metal Version at landlesstheatre.com. The production will be held at Warehouse Theatre, August 7-31, 2014.
Support our Indiegogo campaign and be a part of this landmark experimental production here!
MEET THE FLEET STREET COLLECTIVE
Andrew Lloyd Baughman (Arranger, Assignment Editor) is the Producing Artistic Director of LTC and an Associate Artist of Maryland Ensemble Theatre. He is a book writer for DIAMOND DEAD (2008 Best Musical Pick of the Capital Fringe; Selected participant in the 2009 FringeNYC), and a composer for Gleam (Co-created with Phil Close, FringeNYC 2011), Rock Bottom [A Rock Opus] and other bizarre works musical theatre. andrewlloydbaughman.com
Spencer Blevins (Arranger) works teaching guitar, bass and violin, as well as playing in several local bands and as a freelance guitarist and bassist in Philadelphia and the surrounding area. He studied jazz guitar with several Philly legends such as Bob Miles and Tom Giacabetti. In addition, Spencer is constantly expanding the range of his music, having spent time in North India studying Hindustani Classical music on the Sitar, and pursuing further studies in Carnatic Classical music on guitar with virtuoso South Indian guitarist R. Prasanna via skype. Additionally, Spencer continues to write music that is his own unique blend of styles, and seeks to bring this synthesis to bear whenever he performs.
Charles W. Johnson (Music Supervisor/Music Director) has been music director for The Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Stagedoor Manor (Camp, Theatre Geek), National Park Players in Colorado, Landless Theatre, Maryland Ensemble Theatre and Cumberland Theatre. Past Sondheim music direction credits include Into The Woods, Company and …Forum.
Lance LaRue (Arranger) is a graduate of the Armed Forces School of Music and served as a Percussionist in the Marine Corps. Originally from South Florida, Lance has performed in any conceivable form of music ensemble and idiom from Afro-Cuban Jazz to Zydeco, from Liturgical Music to Death Metal, and before varying audiences from Inmates to World Leaders. Lance can be seen regularly around the DC area with Dominion Way and The Michelle Raymond Band and performed in the 2013 Landless Theatre production of Richard Campbell’s Frankenstein.
Andrew Siddle (Arranger) is a recent graduate of NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. His recent works include a rock-horror-musical-comedy, THE TREES (Music & Co-Lyricist with Joe York) and a romantic Texas country musical, BUG TUSSLE (Music & Co-Lyricist with Jonathan Pearson), which both received Equity readings in New York. Andrew is from the UK, where he earned his undergraduate degree in Musical Composition and Technology at the University of Hertfordshire. He spent many years working for the Northern Academy of Performing Arts in Hull as a Composer and Musical Director. Andrew has always been a huge fan of Sweeney Todd and is delighted to be part of the team! andrewsiddlecomposer.com
Ray Shaw (Arranger) has previously performed as a rock bassist for Landless Theater Company in the productions Richard Campbell’s Frankenstein and President Harding is a Rock Star, and as a guitarist in Davey Jones’ Locker. He also performed (as actor/singer) in the Rude Mechanicals’ music-enhanced, Rat Pack-era presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed as a pit bassist for productions of Big River and Leader of the Pack, and regularly sings barbershop with the Harbor City Chorus.
Alex Vallejo (Arranger) studied Jazz Performance and Composition at the University of the Arts. Over the past 15 years he has regularly performed, recorded, and toured with a variety of folk, punk, and metal bands. As a pit orchestra musician, he has played bass, guitar, and mandolin in the Rocky Horror Show, Legally Blonde, and Landless Theater Company’s production of Richard Campbell’s Frankenstein. He is a founding band member of Queen Wolf.
Bloody Good News! Sondheim Grants Landless Theatre Company Permission to Develop Prog-Metal Version of ‘Sweeney Todd’ by Andrew L. Baughman.
Part One: “Richard Campbell’s Frankenstein: Making a Monster Rock Opera”: Meet Robert Bradley.
Part Two: “Richard Campbell’s Frankenstein: Landless Making a Monster Rock Opera:” Meet Andrew Baughman.
Part Three: “Richard Campbell’s Frankenstein: Landless Making a Monster Rock Opera:” Meet Irene Jericho.
Landless Theatre Company’s website.