Yesterday, I attended the tale of Sweeney Todd at the Barrow Street Theatre. This off-broadway production is different from others, because you are sitting in Mrs. Lovett's meat pie shop while the show takes place all around you.
This immersive production of Sweeney Todd stars Norm Lewis, a remarkable actor that adds power to the title role both in singing and in acting. Norm Lewis does not fail to scare the audience at every chance he gets whether it’s waving a knife in their faces or screaming “MOVE NOW” at an audience member as he throws another performer onto the bench.
In Carolee Carmello’s performance as Mrs Lovett, we see that dark twisted woman in a portrayal not far off from Angela Lansbury’s years ago. Carmello nails this performance more so than anything else I have personally seen her do (Which is every single show she’s been appeared in New York since Finding Neverland). She balances crazy with her love for Sweeney Todd.
Matt Doyle wins the audience over from the moment he starts singing. His performance as Anthony makes you want this sailor to have a happy ending and find the love that he is looking for. Alex Finke as Johanna is a perfect pair to his Anthony. With her gorgeous voice she takes a song that can easily be just another boring song and breaths life into it causing the audience to feel bad for her character and the life she is forced to live. The chemistry between these two performers makes them a believable couple.
Jamie Jackson commands the stage as Judge Turpin and makes it very clear in his power who is really in charge in London. His performance takes an already menacing villain to a whole new level. Brad Oscar plays his sidekick, Beadle Bamford in a way that is comedic while still reminding you that he’ll kill anyone that Judge Turpin asks him to.
John-Michael Lyles gives an extraordinary performance as Tobias and absolutely nails his song in the second act “Not While I’m Around”. His performance as Tobias is spot on from the moment he walks on stage all the way to his mental breakdown and murder of Sweeney Todd.
In a dual role, Stacie Bono plays both The Beggar Woman and Pirelli. She does a fantastic job of playing both of these roles. Her comedic timing as Pirelli is perfect. Her performance as the Beggar Woman leaves you excited to see what her next scene on stage will be.
The production is directed magnificently by Bill Buckhurst. He successfully makes up for the set pieces that are not there as well as Sweeney’s famous chair that sends victims to their graves. In his staging, he implements movement in which the actors mime going to their death in place of set pieces to tell the story. Some moments that were shown to you in prior productions are now heavily inferred but take place offstage.
This production is incredible and any fan of Sweeney Todd should do everything they can to get to see it. If you have never seen Sweeney Todd, I recommend watching one of the many amazing filmed productions of the show before attending the tale at Barrow Street the have a better understanding over the story.
A college student that sees many shows annually.