Josh Groban Explains His ‘Sweeney Todd’ Exit in New Interview – Billboard
Written by GRB on 23/12/2023
Josh Groban shocked the theater community when he and his Sweeney Todd co-star Annaleigh Ashford announced that they will be playing their final shows on Jan. 14, 2024, with Aaron Tveit and Sutton Foster set to replace the pair. While Groban expressed gratitude for getting to be in the show in his departure announcement, the star provided additional context as to why he left in a new interview with Billboard News.
“I think that we feel whether we stayed in it another year, whether we left tomorrow, I think Annaleigh and I feel like we did what we came to do,” Groban explained to Billboard‘s Rebecca Milzoff. “We wanted to get it off the ground in a way that we were really proud of, to get a response that [Stephen] Sondheim would have been really excited by and proud of, we wanted to bring our essence to the role and do something to it that we personally would be really proud of. And then it comes down to, how long do you stay fresh in that and how long do you feel like you have something really vital in your tank to give it.”
Their revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, to use its full title, received eight Tony nominations, including best revival of a musical and best actor and actress in a musical for Groban and Ashford. The cast album from the show is nominated for a Grammy for best musical theater album. Final-round voting is currently underway. The awards will be presented on Feb. 4.
Elsewhere during Groban’s interview, he spoke about his link to David Foster, who mentored him throughout the process of recording his 2001 self-titled debut album, and revealed that the experience gave him the tools necessary to soar on his sophomore follow-up, Closer. Groban reflected on the album hitting No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and being surprised because it felt “a little more expressive” than his debut.
“I remember it didn’t open at No. 1. I remember being surprised [when] I got the call that it had gone No. 1 when that’s usually not the case. Usually, you have your big opening week, at least that’s the way the business is now, so that was a really special feeling.”
Closer entered the Billboard 200 at No. 4 in November 2003 and finally reached No. 1 in its ninth week in January 2004. “You Raise Me Up,” a Foster-produced track from the album, became Groban’s first hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and brought him his first Grammy nod (best male pop vocal performance).
“That was the first album I started to write on,” Groban recalls. “I felt like that was the first album that I started to explore more eclectic taste and took more risks and dipped my toes into waters that felt a little more self-expressive.”
He continued, “Your first album you’re just so careful, you got a lot of chefs in the kitchen. When you got someone like David Foster, you’ve got Gordon Ramsey in your kitchen — in a good way. So that album doing what it did really made me realize that my fans are in it for the long run. That album going to No. 1 made me realize, ‘Oh we’re gonna have a journey together.’ … They were open to other styles. They were open to me being me.”
Watch Groban’s full interview with Billboard News in the video above.