Through September 30|
SWEENEY TODD or The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Kavinoky Theater
By Augustine Warner
“Sweeney Todd” is a musical for those who always wonder why their fast food is so cheap.
Here, it’s a barber who supplies the meat pie baker he’s having a fling with by cutting the throats of customers for his barber shop, upstairs, and then sliding them downstairs to the bake house.
Business is wonderful.
There are two other plots to the story.
Sweeney Todd (Matt Witten) wants revenge for his framing by Judge Turpin (Peter Palmisano) and his Beadle Banford (Bill Lovern) which sent him to exile to Australia and cost him his wife, Lucy, and daughter, Johanna.
There’s also the sailor, Anthony Hope (Anthony Lazzaro) who rescued Todd from a rock in the ocean and came to London with him.
Tony falls in love with Johanna (Leah Berst), the (semi-)daughter of Judge Turpin, and Todd discovers his daughter is still alive and a prisoner of the judge.
He proclaims supreme vengeance, when talking to Mrs. Lovett, sending routine victims down the chute to death, while waiting with his chair and chute for Beadle Banford and Judge Turpin.
Meanwhile, the crowds are assembling outside and competing to eat more and more of the meat pies, cutting into the available meat supply until Todd supplies more, in the production number, “God, that’s Good!”
Todd actually murders his wife, not knowing she’s still alive, but does get Beadle Bamford and Judge Turpin and Tony gets Johanna.
Tony and Johanna take off in one direction and Todd heads off in another.
She’s already bitten the dust in the baking oven.
One reason “Sweeney Todd” is so long is the proliferation of plots and the way things swirl back to a story, especially the twists and turns of Johanna and Tony.
Director John Fredo has long experience on stage with musicals and also increasing time directing.
Clearly, here he’s working with a classic show and he has a very strong cast, led by Witten and Loraine O’Donnell’s Mrs. Lovett, along with Palmisano, Lovern, Berst and Aleks Malejs’ Beggar Woman.
There’s no listed choreographer, although it’s certainly also Fredo.
He’s working with a very strong ensemble, local stage veterans like Marc Sacco, Ben Michael Moran and Charmagne Chi.
That shows up in production numbers like “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” along with its reprises, and the chorus with Todd, Mrs. Lovett and Tobias Ragg (Lucas DeNies) on Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir.”
There’s also a really good design from David King and video design from Brian Milbrand.
There’s long been debate about this show, not about the work of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler but in making Todd the show’s hero, or pretty close to the hero.
Sure, there are bad people in the show like the judge and the beadle but that’s something we see in Washington or Albany every day.
So, skip that argument and look at the show and at this production.
It’s a beautifully crafted show and it’s getting a wonderful production.
See “Sweeney Todd.”
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