Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Dance Party: Birthday Boy

Neil Patrick Harris is becoming a habit with me.  I don't intend to break it.  Our favorite song-and-dance man has appeared on the Dance Party for the past two years or so.  Go here for his first appearance, which coincided with various Gay Pride celebrations and included a brief rundown on his career to date.  A year later, NPH, as he insists I call him, was celebrated for his turn as host of the Tony and other Awards.  Today is his birthday, and he has just had another triumphant hosting gig at Sunday's Tonys, so it's only fitting that he star in this week's Dance Party.
NPH won the Emmy for hosting the Tonys in 2009. He also picked up the Guest Performance in a Comedy trophy for his appearance on Glee.  He has yet to win for his regular series gigs.
Breaking with those earlier clips, which feature NPH in upbeat musical numbers, let's take a peak at one of his quieter moments. 
After Doogie Houser, Neil turned to
the stage to transition into leading
man roles. In Sweeney, he played
manchild Tobias.
For several years during the early 2000s, before he snagged his current role on TV's How I Met Your Mother, Neil was making the rounds, honing his musical theatre chops.  In several concert productions, he played the slow-witted Tobias in Stephen Sondheim's masterpiece, Sweeney Todd.  I am very fond of Sweeney, and was in the audience during one of the performances which was filmed for the famous video of the show, starring Angela Lansbury and George Hearne. 
Baranski and Stokes Mitchell were
highlights of KenCen's Sondheim Festival.
Years later, I was thrilled with the Kennedy Center production starring Christine Baranski and Brian Stokes Mitchell.  I even enjoyed the film version, which was widely criticized because it bore little resemblance to whichever stage production was everybody's favorite.

This particular production was one of those concert stagings which we love so much.  It was filmed in San Francisco for PBS, and just seeing this clip makes me want to track down and watch the full DVD.  Our Mrs. Lovett is being played by Patti Lupone, who has run hot and cold for me over the years. 
At this year's Tonys, Harris and Lupone reunited to mow the lawn.
This is a good role for Patti (she was to go on to star in a major revival of Sweeney on Broadway in 2005), and here, you can actually catch the exact moment when she decided the fate of poor Tobias. 
As Mrs. Lovett in the Broadway
revival, Lupone played the tuba.

NPH is particularly lovely in this clip, and is displaying a depth which we are not used to, judging from his comedic work on TV.  The song is the most famous of any of the Todd tunes, and is rendered in a clear tenor voice by our hero.  It was this performance, and others like it during this period, which alerted the public to the musical talents of Harris, and ultimately led to his current status as the go-to guy for musical hosting.
NPH visited Stephen Colbert last week, who wondered why Neil's happiness as a gay man did not rob Stephen of his own.
NPH turns 39 today, so to celebrate, enjoy: