Lansbury’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ co-star reflects on ‘great artist’

Oct 12, 2022, 3:14 PM | Updated: 3:17 pm
FILE - Actors Angela Lansbury, left, and Len Cariou, right, who starred in the musical "Sweeney Tod...

FILE - Actors Angela Lansbury, left, and Len Cariou, right, who starred in the musical "Sweeney Todd" appear with their replacements Dorothy Loudon, second left, and George Hearn at a New York restaurant, prior to their final performance on March 3, 1980. Lansbury died peacefully at her home in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Oct. 11. She was 96. (AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine, File)

(AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou were partners-in-crime on stage in “Sweeney Todd” and crime busters in episodes of TV’s “Murder, She Wrote.”

The actors were also friends and admirers, staying in touch after becoming the toasts of Broadway and Tony Award winners in 1979 for Stephen Sondheim’s acclaimed musical.

They made a point of speaking on their birthdays — Oct. 16 for Lansbury, Sept. 30 for Cariou — and on each anniversary of the play’s opening night, Cariou said Wednesday, a day after Lansbury, 96, died in her Los Angeles home.

“She was a great artist,” Cariou said. “I know she’s with Peter (Shaw) now, her husband, who I think she missed terribly. She said to me on her last birthday, a year ago, ‘It’s just silly being this old.'”

Cariou played the title character in the macabre “Sweeney Todd,” a London barber who dispatches customers with a razor and turns their bodies over to Lansbury’s Mrs. Lovett, a baker who repurposes them for meat pies.

The play won eight Tonys, including best musical and actress and actor. It was Lansbury’s fourth best musical actress award in 13 years, to be followed by a 2009 award for “Blithe Spirt” and a lifetime achievement award at the Tonys in June.

“There is no one with whom I’d rather run a cutthroat business with,” Cariou said in accepting the award for Lansbury.

In the interview with The Associated Press, he recalled the concerns they shared about taking on “Sweeney Todd,” which he described as a “pretty bizarre piece.”

“We were both a little trepidatious about it. We found out pretty early on that we had to be very careful or it could go over the top pretty easily and become farcical,” Cariou said. “We were very proud of the fact that we were able to do it for a year and not go over the top.”

“We made it our business to get to know one another,” he said, lunching together during rehearsal so we could “establish some kind of shorthand and get to know one another better, just as people.”

“We had a wonderful time doing it together,” he said. “We were really proud of what we did, and really grateful for it.”

They also had “great fun” on her hit mystery series “Murder, She Wrote,” in which Lansbury starred as writer-amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher. The Canadian-born Cariou appeared in seven episodes, airing between 1985 and 1992, in the recurring role of former British intelligence agent Michael Hagarty.

As talented and admired as she was, he said, she was never demanding. The British native did expect tea (preferred type: Yorkshire Gold) and never coffee during set breaks, Cariou recalled.

Lansbury was a remarkable talent, he said, but it was “very easy to be with her.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Former President Donald Trump, left, and Michigan Republican attorney general candidate Matt...
Associated Press

Defeated election conspiracists seek to lead Michigan GOP

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republicans who lost their races for Michigan’s top three statewide offices after promoting falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election are not planning to go quietly. Two of the candidates who denied President Joe Biden’s victory in the state have announced plans to run for the position that leads the state […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Estonia to buy U.S. rocket artillery system in $200M deal

HELSINKI (AP) — NATO member and Russia’s neighbor Estonia is boosting its defense capabilities by acquiring an advanced U.S. rocket artillery system in the Baltic country’s largest arms procurement project ever, defense officials said Saturday. A deal signed Friday for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System is worth more than $200 million and includes equipment […]
6 hours ago
Migrant workers with their belongings leave a barricaded village after authorities' easing of COVID...
Associated Press

Beijing, Shenzhen scrap COVID-19 tests for public transport

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities on Saturday announced a further easing of COVID-19 curbs with major cities such as Shenzhen and Beijing no longer requiring negative tests to take public transport. The slight relaxation of testing requirements comes even as daily virus infections reach near-record highs, and follows weekend protests across the country by residents […]
6 hours ago
A police officer tries to keep the roadway clear as people come to view the Mauna Loa volcano as it...
Associated Press

Molten lava on Hawaii’s Big Island could block main highway

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Many people on the Big Island of Hawaii are bracing for major upheaval if lava from Mauna Loa volcano slides across a key highway and blocks the quickest route connecting two sides of the island. The molten rock could make the road impassable and force drivers to find alternate coastal routes […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

US condemns shooting at Pakistan’s embassy in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The U.S. on Saturday condemned an attack a day earlier on the Pakistani embassy in Afghanistan’s capital, in which a senior Pakistani diplomat escaped unhurt but one of his Pakistani guards was wounded, sending a wave of anger in this Islamic nation. Friday’s assault comes amid rising tensions between the South Asian […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Residents queue at a bank branch in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Nov. 21, 2022. Even as Ukrain...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Can Ukraine pay for war without wrecking economy?

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Even as Ukraine celebrates recent battlefield victories, its government faces a looming challenge on the financial front: how to pay the enormous cost of the war effort without triggering out-of-control price spikes for ordinary people or piling up debt that could hamper postwar reconstruction. The struggle is finding loans or donations […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Lansbury’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ co-star reflects on ‘great artist’