Sweeney Todd - October 2013
Studio 1 serves up a spooky 'Sweeney Todd'
By Charity Apple / Times-News
Posted Oct. 17, 2013 at 12:01 AM
Studio 1’s performance of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is just in time for Halloween.
Not for the faint of heart, the latest offering from the theater company is filled with “close shaves” by a madman, focused on revenge.
Michael Ray Williams, as Sweeney Todd, is almost unrecognizable with dyed jet-black hair, accented by a white streak. The look is reminiscent of how Johnny Depp transformed for the portrayal in the 2007 film.
Another similarity to that film is Angelica Sumner as Mrs. Nellie Lovett — a role played by Helena Bonham Carter. Sumner not only resembles Carter, but her English accent and mannerisms are spot-on and she and Williams have great on-stage chemistry.
Zombielike gazes from the ensemble, along with haunting music in the background, was only a touch of the macabre the performers added to Stephen Sondheim’s musical thriller, which is directed by Mark Armstrong with musical direction by April Hill. Williams portrayed Todd’s descent into madness with such skill that you forget he’s an actor playing a role, especially when he’s wielding that razor.
The set transported the audience to 1846 London, complete with a view of the River Thames. The black box theatre atmosphere will allow for the performers to get up-close and personal with the audience, in an eerie fashion. The action is so intense, there were moments that this reviewer had to peer through clasped fingers.
While some children were present during Monday night’s rehearsal, it might be best to leave the young ones at home, especially if they’re squeamish — because blood will spill.
Besides Williams and Sumner, Tim Brown as Judge Turpin and Sean Lucier as Beadle Bamford portray two characters you will love to hate. Allie Allen is incredible as Johanna; her voice is a beautiful contrast to the dark show.
Bryan Cox was mesmerizing as Anthony, a young sailor smitten by Johanna. Joseph Banko as Tobias Ragg is an engaging young actor with a wonderful tenor voice and Linnea Bethany is memorable as the beggar woman, a complete contrast to the roles Bethany usually plays.
If you’re in the mood for some horror and great acting, “Sweeney Todd” certainly fits the bill.