Monday January 16th 2017

“Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

postersweenyHighly Recommended *****I love the work of Stephen Sondheim! That is why it is very special that Porchlight Music Theatre is doing a “Season of Sondheim” to celebrate 20 years of bringing musicals to Chicago audiences.At least for me (and the others who love his works) And what a production! “Sweeney Todd” is an almost opera written by Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler, telling the story of a man sent to prison for a crime that he did not commit, Benjamin Barker, who returns for his retribution as “Sweeney Todd” (brilliantly brought to life by David Girolmo). While away, he lost his family, a wife and daughter, as well as his self-respect.

Directed by Michael Weber, who truly knows how to make a large musical work in an intimate space, such as the Stage 773 Venue. This is a three-sided stage area where they have built levels with moveable pieces on wheels (set designed by Jeffrey D. Kmiec) where we are taken back in time to a place where Todd lost his former life and with his new landlady, Mrs. Lovett (returning in her Jeff Award winning role is Rebecca Finnegan, who is even more powerful than in her previous appearance), makes waste of those who stand in his way of total revenge. What they do is a major part of the story so I will leave this for you to see and enjoy on your own. I will say it is a tasty little story that reveals a morsel of fairness, at least on the eyes of one “Sweeney Todd”.David-Girolmo-and-Edward-J.-MacLennan-in-Porchlight-Music-Theatre’s-production-of-SWEENEY-TODD.-Photo-by-Brandon-Dahlquist.jpg-199x300

FYI- I think it important to note that act one is 90 minutes in length, but well worth the sit and the time goes quite quickly as we meet the characters in the opening  “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”. The first act ends with a number called “A Little Priest” as Girolmo and Finnegan talk about what they have been doing. This is a rollicking, hysterical song that will have you wanting more. The ensemble players in this production have some excellent voices. Porchlight has always found young talent to fill its productions out and in this one, it is “business as usual”. Another solid production.sweenet224-266x400

Kelli Harrington, Brian Acker, Stephanie Stockstill, Matthias Austin, Edward J. MacLennan, the adorable Miles Blim, Kevin Webb, Pablo Barajas, Ben Barker, Christin Boulette, Caron Buinis, Javier Ferrerra, Johann George, Rachel Klippel, Matt McNabb, Sierra Naomi and Andy Robinson- great work!

The music under the direction of Doug Peck is masterfully handled and each piece propels the story along. In fact, every aspect f the production is top-notch and because the theater is so very small, gives  the audience a different perspective to the large show that “Sweeney Todd” is! All the elements were covered: lighting (Greg Hofman and Jess Goings), Costumes (Bill Morey), sound (Jenna Moran) and props (Chris Tisone), making this one of the best productions I have seen of this, one of my favorite shows. It is often said that in every actor’s life, there is a defining role in which they stand out above all the others. When we think back, we see many who have done a role that sticks in our minds for years.

“Sweeney Todd” will continue at Stage 773 thru November 9th with performances as follows:

Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.

Fridays at 8 p.m.

Saturdays  at 4 and 8 p.m.

Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets range from $39-$45  open general seating and can be purchased at the box office located at 1225 West Belmont Avenue, by calling 773-777-9884 or online at www.porchlightmusictheatre.org.

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”sweenet2231-400x266

 

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