Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Wonderfully Staged Sweeney Todd

We saw the "revival" version of Sweeney Todd today at the Ahmanson Theatre. While I avoided the film version, this is the 4th staging of this "musical thriller" I have seen in the past 24 years. And this particular version is truly unique.

This production was directed by John Doyle, whose work is described on the TCG website as a "dazzling reinvention of a magnificent musical thriller—where the band of devilish characters are all musicians..." It was fascinating to watch as the actors, all of whom were on stage for the entire production, also provided the music with each member of the ensemble playing one or more instruments at some point in the play. The outstanding cast, pictured below, was headed by Judy Kaye as Mrs. Lovett and David Hess as Sweeney Todd.

As a sometimes actor myself, I was exhausted by the amount of work each of the company members carried out during the performance: acting, singing, providing music, moving set pieces, and on and on. Doyle's blocking was extremely intricate. It was almost like watching a human jigsaw puzzle being created and then rearranged over and over as the action was revealed to the audience. I can only imagine the amount of work that went into bringing such an intricate rendition of this great musical to life.

It was an extremely enjoyable afternoon at the theatre. Bravo to the director and cast!

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