Before the play began we were warned that the first act would run an hour and a half, with a fifteen minute intermission followed by a second act of an hour. We had great seats in the middle of the middle row, but before the production began we changed our seats to the final row on the aisle. We couldn’t see the faces as well, but that position gave us a great view of the entire house.
The character of, and the plots and stories of about Sweeney Todd goes back approximately a hundred and fifty years of killing, revenge, strait razors, meat pies, and a little mayhem thrown in for good luck and tastes.
Basically Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler. A play about Sweeney Todd with all the elements laid out was written by Christopher Bond and introduced in 1973. Stephen Sondheim took the elements and created the musical version of the play.
“What I did to Chris’ play is more than enhance it. I had a feeling it would be a new animal. . . Hal Prince (Who originally directed the musical on Broadway) gave it an epic sense, a sense that this was a man of some size instead of just a nut case. The music helps to give it that dimension.” – Stephen Sondheim
80% or better is either set to music or underscores the dialog in Sweeney Todd.
I love director Charlotte Tiencken’s comment about this musical production. “I believe this story has a lot to tell us about the world that we live in. We all have the capacity to do evil things. Most of us don’t act on that, but many of us do. We are seeing more and more of this in our world. I hope that will change, but only if we come together as a community to stop it.”
Inside the theater it felt so huge, as if the darkness settled on us and extended forever. The backdrop on stage showed city buildings from the 1800s. Directly in front of the buildings was the orchestra. The actors played in front of the music being played like it was the driving force. We could see the movement of bows slicing away as the stories were told.
The sets were moved almost constantly to accommodate each scene and sometimes containing as many as three separate targets for our eyes to follow. The stage is almost always the center of the attraction, but not here . . . Here we saw the characters come out into the audience up the long carpeted walk ways and once from the doorway into the theatre all the way to the stage. The audience was left wondering what would happen next . . . and that is a sign of a great story being told.
The paring of Stephanie Murray (Mrs. Lovett – Left) and Bradley J. Thomas (Sweeney Todd – right) was a very nice combination. I wouldn’t want to meet the two of them in a dark alley . . . even on Vashon.
The prize for young and beautiful was declared by middle-aged rich and powerful men but the young and beautiful said, “No.” The engaging young man who worshipped her, was the declared the winner. Young and pure Johanna and adoring Anthony was the best compensation . . . We got to experience the pain and sorrow of the young man plus the very nice voice of Oliver Callahan.
The character of Tobias, a slave to duty and doing what’s right in this world is played by Hailey Howell Quackenbush. His upper register singing was very, very nice. Peg and I just looked at each other and said, “Wow.”
I don’t recall anyone not standing for the ovation at the end of the fantastic presentation. Everyone deserved the accolades and cheering. Sweeney Todd was a definite winner.
The Vashon Repertory Theatre is now available via the Tacoma Theatre Directory, which offers wonderful productions from Olympia (Harlequin Theatre) to Federal Way (CenterStage) – tacomatheatredirectory.com/
For more information about tickets to Sweeney Todd and the Vashon Repertory Theatre, please visit – vashonrepertorytheatre.org/
Photographs courtesy of Michelle Bates – michellebates.net
Don Doman/Peg Doman: Professional writers and published authors of self-help books for video production, entrepreneurship, and market research. Websites, online videos, and social media marketing.
The excellent photographs of the production “Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street” were captured by https://michellebates.net/