Tuesday, May 24, 2016

reviews - SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET - Mesa Encore Theatre

Damon J. Bolling and Alaina Beauloye
Photo by Christina Blackbill / Geeky Chic Photography
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through May 29th.

 "..Stephen Sondheim's decision to take a black comedy he saw one evening in London and spin it into a dark, bold, and bloody musical with elements of Grand Guignol was a stroke of genius and the result is his (and bookwriter Hugh Wheeler's) masterpiece, Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Mesa Encore Theatre presents the show for only eight performances and, since this is one of the best sung versions of the show I've seen, and since both shows on opening weekend were sold out, I highly recommend you get a ticket before all remaining performances are sold out as well.
... follows the story of a barber in 19th century London who was unjustly exiled and seeks revenge against Judge Turpin, the man who falsely imprisoned him with plans to steal his young wife Lucy and their infant child Joanna away. ..With the assistance of Mrs. Lovett,...soon Todd and Lovett are finding a most creative, and profitable, way to dispose of the bodies whose throats Todd has slit in his barber chair as he waits to get revenge against Turpin....with MET's good cast and solid direction, the sophisticated and challenging show becomes a delicious and macabre treat. Director Phillip Fazio has found a cast capable of delivering Sondheim's challenging score while also creating emotionally rich characters that are full of joy, strife and suffering. As Sweeney, Damon J. Bolling portrays Todd's brooding and always calculating mindset very well...could use a touch more menace in his performance...His smooth, clear voice delivers some lovely notes throughout. Alaina Beauloye doesn't make one false move as Mrs. Lovett....she and Bolling create some impressive moments together. ...Fazio does very well with his direction, ensuring the sweeping production never falters...My only quibble is his decision to have almost the entire cast wear ripped costumes and putting the leads in shackles at the end. I'm not quite sure what he is going for with those directorial decisions but they clearly went over my head....The sheer beauty and genius of Sweeney Todd is how Sondheim's sophisticated score and Wheeler's book use sweeping music and humorous moments of black comedy to tell the moving story of a madman with extremely rewarding results. It is a challenging show; Mesa Encore Theatre's production and cast are clearly up to the challenge."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"If you buy just one ticket this month, Mesa Encore Theatre's final presentation of the season is the show you need to see. As the lyric goes, "God that's good!!" Stephen Sondheim's terribly terrific musical horror story of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"...In MET's version, the sophisticated story's evil twists flew... devilishly well into the eager full house last night. The secret ingredient ...was likely director Phillip Fazio. ...Damon Bolling as Sweeney Todd served well as the conduit through which his damned, adult-themed story was told. ...Leading lady Alaina Beauloye as Mrs. Lovett was a joy alongside him. Her sweetly hungry, opportunistic scheming was expertly delivered, reaping laughter and incredulous gasps alike......With music director Debra Jo Davey, Fazio's direction made good vocalists into spine-tingling, consonant biting ensemble members....Kathleen Berger's Beggar Woman portrayal was an excellent example of the breadth and dynamic shifts demanded throughout the show....supporting actors Michael Williams and Melody Startzell in the roles of Anthony and Johanna. Their tenor and tenor soprano phrases were above reproach. ....Every supporting role was actually quite impressive to witness.,,Fazio's direction also offered chilling visual effects, crisp scene changes and a highly efficient double decker rotating central stage piece. ...MET's "Sweeney Todd" production is community musical theater at its finest. The company's 80-year history of creating substantial art is best exemplified in this current show that has just one weekend of production left. Don't miss your opportunity to attend the tale." -Jennifer Haaland, Examiner.com (click here to read the complete review)

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