“High schools don’t do Sweeney Todd”, is how one of the leads, Caroline Powers, put it when she thanked the show’s director for coming up with the idea and then sticking with it. Sweeney is a bizarre, odd, grisly story of revenge, with multitudes of throat-slashings, dead & dying body disposing, and general gruesomeness. On top of that, it’s a musical, yet the music, while not atonal, is hardly tonal, shall we say.
Getting the picture? A challenging show, even for professional actors, let alone high school kids. So imagine my surprise when I discovered I liked it. Maybe it was the enthusiasm, the energy that these kids threw into it, and the fact that every single player on that stage was in character.
No matter what the leads are doing, I always scan the whole stage to see what the others are up to. Knowing that audiences will do this, great movie director,Frank Capra would have separate conversations with all of his “extras”, assigning to each a motive for what they were doing and where they were going, because that’s how it works in real life; every person you pass on the street has a motive, doesn’t he?
So this odd show really worked, and even the music was good. Amazing.
By the way, for comparison, I checked out the Angela Lansbury/George Hearn Broadway version, as well as clips from the Johnny Depp movie; I think young Mr. Ali Coopersmith’s Sweeny Todd, and Lexi Seidel’s Mrs. Lovett were as good as anything I saw. Likewise for John LaBossiere’s Mr. Beadle (this guy’s always good)
Tickets were 10 bucks each, an improvement over the $220/ticket cost of Glengarry Glen Ross that I saw on Broadway in December (on the other hand, unlike the Brunswick Performing Arts Center, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater, you can buy a martini in a sippy-cup).