Sunday, October 09, 2005

Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

We got to see Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street on Broadway on Saturday. This Sounheim musical is near and dear to me because I was actually in this musical and produced it in high school, many years ago. I still think I know almost all of the words, much to the chagrin of my theater companions (I did not sing during the show, just in the car ride to and from, and every time I have touched a knife since).

The show was terrific and interesting because they had a very sparse cast and staging. The main cast also sang chorus parts when they were not performing their main roles and, most innovative of all, played the instruments, as there was no orchestra but them. Imagine the talent to sing and play an instrument and then to go on to perform in your main role. The actors were on stage the whole show, moving from chorus to instrument to main part.

The sparse staging was evocative of the inside of an insane asylum. During each scene the actors would take items from the tall shelving behind them to use as the props. The presentation made me think that this was a hospital where the patients were allowed an hour of free time out of their cells and they chose to act out the story of Sweeney Todd as their recreation. That and the actors pouring blood from one bucket to another throughout the whole play, usually when people were killed made for a very creepy production. This musical is just the thing for the Halloween season. I highly recommend it.

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