The Players Theatre Company Presents Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
With these words, authors Harold Prince and Stephen Sondheim invite you into the world they created not just to tell the story of a man brought to his knees by corruption and injustice, but to teach you that seeking revenge may cost you your soul.
Almost 24 years to the date of the Broadway premiere (March 1, 1979), The Players Theatre Company presents Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Directed by the multi-talented Adam Isbell, this rendition of Sweeney Todd brings audiences to the seedy underbelly of London on the Owen Theatre stage. With sets designed and created by Michael and Jamie Glass, this operetta is more a theatrical experience rather than just a main stage musical.
The incredible ensemble portraying the citizens of London act as a modern Greek chorus throughout the show, foreshadowing events for the audience as well as pointing out moral lessons one should be acknowledging through the scenes. Ensemble members new to The Players, Graciela Lara, Paxton Bourgeois, Garrett Harvey, Kylee Haueter, Zoe Bullard, and Colton Land, join familiar faces Kimberly Lambright, Robert Gyomber, Mark Doreza, Danielle Stringfellow, John Kaiser, and Jennifer Clevenger in the stellar ensemble. Both fresh and seasoned actors rounding out the principal and supporting characters include David McKnight (Anthony), Grace Schexnayder (Johanna), Kade Johnson (Toby), Jack Wheeler (Beadle), Jonathan Duttweiler (Fogg), T.J. Poulos (Pirelli), Michael Barnhart (Judge Turpin), and visiting artist from India, Kathleen Baker (Beggar Woman).
Sweeney Todd (Lucas Olivarez) is both a tragic, pitiful protagonist and a nightmarish, amoral murderer, bent on dishing out revenge to both his betrayer and the world around him. The people of London appear soulless and hopeless, and Todd does not distinguish between the rich and the poor; to him, everyone deserves to die-the rich to be punished for their corruption, and the poor to save them from their miserable existence. This tale of horrors sees Todd travers from a physical prison courtesy of Judge Turpin to a mental prison of his own design while he wreaks havoc on the lives around him.
But it’s not all grim as the Cockney shopkeeper, Mrs. Lovett (Shananda Poulos), infuses some macabre humor into the storyline, and audiences will find themselves laughing at Lovett’s outlook regarding her pies, both the unwanted and the hotly desired, no matter how disgusting they all are.
While the show’s storyline may be lurid and somewhat shocking, Isbell and cast tell it with heart and sincerity so the true themes of morality and the evil of the desire for personal revenge burst through loud and clear. It is a wild, wonderfully-told, scary story that should serve as a warning while also enrapturing audiences with its style, darkness, and haunting musicality.