By Mary Boyle
"Follies." "A Little Night Music." "Into the Woods." "Sundays in the Park with George." Nothing goes together quite like Stephen Sondheim and Musical Theatre, and perhaps that is why this famous American composer's musical thriller, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, was chosen for Skylight Music Theatre's season finale.
Directed by Matthew Ozawa, Sweeney Todd is widely considered to be one of Sondheim's greatest musicals (made extra famous with the 2007 film adaptation featuring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter). The musical is the story of Sweeney Todd (Andrew Varela), a London barber who was wrongfully imprisoned for many years when the corrupt Judge Turpin (Randall Dodge) took a fancy to the barber's beautiful wife. Saved from drowning by a sailor, Anthony Hope (Lucas Pastrana), Todd returns to London to learn from his old neighbor, Mrs. Lovett (Christina Hall), that his wife committed suicide, and his daughter, Johanna (Kelly Brit), had grown up the ward of none other than Judge Turpin, himself. Determined to get his vengeance and be reunited with his daughter, Todd reopens his barber shop on Fleet Street, above where Mrs. Lovett makes her meat pies. And then, as they say, the murders began.
The local competition, Italian barber Adolfo Pirelli (Robert A. Goderich), threatens Todd and demands a share of his profits, so he is the first to feel Todd's wrath. Pirelli's boy, Tobias Ragg (Ryan Stajmiger) makes a seemingly perfect helper for Mrs. Lovett, but what to do with the body of his former employer? You know, with the price of meat these days...
Sweeney Todd is as morbid and gruesome as it is funny and somewhat erotic, and Skylight plays all of it up, with dark Victorian costumes and a set that recalls an insane asylum of the same period, along with what are surely the worst pies in London. The walls quite literally run with blood, and there may be some identifiable body parts in the meat grinder -- this is not a show for the exceptionally squeamish! -- and yet, audiences will be almost surprised to find themselves laughing at the horror presented to them. That, perhaps, is the brilliance of Sweeney Todd.
Performances of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street are Friday, May 19 through Saturday, June 11 in the Cabot Theatre, located at, 158 N. Broadway, in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee. Sweeney Todd is suitable for audiences ages 12 and up. Tickets are $25 - $75 (plus tax and fees) and can be purchased in person at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway, or by calling (414) 291-7800, Monday – Saturday, from noon - 6 p.m. The Box Office window is also open two hours prior to each performance. Tickets may be purchased online at www.skylightmusictheatre.org.
About Skylight Music Theatre
Skylight Music Theatre's mission since 1959: To bring the full spectrum of music theatre works to a wide and diverse audience in celebration of the musical and theatrical arts and their reflection of the human condition. Skylight presents productions "Skylight Style"
– bringing fresh approaches or interesting twists to music theatre works, creating meaningful connections, not only between the characters on stage, but with the audience, as well. The beautiful, intimate Cabot Theatre allows audiences to feel close to the powerful emotions on stage.