Broadway's ''Sweeney Todd'' takes on indie rock -- Razor-wielding actor Michael Cerveris talks about his career away from the stage

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When he’s not slitting throats, Michael Cerveris, the razor-wielding star of Broadway’s Sweeney Todd, can be found flailing at a guitar in a local rock dive. The Tony-winning thespian (The Who’s Tommy, Titanic, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Assassins) is crazy for indie rock and already has a solo album, 2004’s moody Dog Eared, under his belt. ”Acting is my day job to support my money-losing music career,” he chuckles as he restrings his guitar in his dressing room at New York’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre.

In fact, the moonlighting musician is ridiculously well connected in the alt-music world, having performed with the likes of Bob Mould, Frank Black, and Teenage Fanclub. (Guests on Dog Eared include Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, the Posies’ Ken Stringfellow, and Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss).

Cerveris plans to self-release his second solo album in 2006. He puts out his own CDs because ”the labels are really resistant to people like me. Let’s face it, when an actor says he has a band, people start thinking about Keanu Reeves.”

While Sondheim is a far cry from Sonic Youth, Cerveris contends that the two are closer than you might think. He cites the excitement of the new, stripped-down production of Sweeney Todd, in which all of the actors accompany themselves on instruments.

”I get to play guitar,” he notes. ”And it really feels like a punk-attitude production: The cast looks like a Siouxsie and the Banshees tribute band! Patti [Lupone] looks a little like Jack White. And I’ve started seeing full-on Goth kids in the audience.” Sounds like too cool a day job to quit, buddy.

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