“There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit, / And the vermin of the world inhabit it, / And its morals aren’t worth what a pig could spit, / And it goes by the name of London.” ~ Sweeney Todd
Friends here is another edition of Matinee Wednesday! And it is perfect with Halloween just around the corner! I got to see the Broadway Revival of Sweeney Todd which stars Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford and friends it is SO good! Now this might sound sacrilegious in the theatre world, but I am not a huge fan of Sondheim. Do not get me wrong, he was a musical theatre genius and did so much for the community and there is no doubt he has created some incredible and iconic shows. Despite his musicals not being my souvenir cup of choice, can recognize his incredible accomplishments, and his death a coupe years ago was and is a huge loss for the theatre community.
As iconic as his shows are, his musicals aren’t something I tend to listen to on repeat or hurry to the theatre for. They have a very old fashioned quality to them. And while they are works of art in their own right, I don’t feel like they are gripping and none of his musicals are n my top ten. BUT that is the beauty of theatre. Everyone has specific tastes, and not every show will be a person’s cup of tea…in a souvenir cup. I should also say, I am not a fan of horror. Then why did I go to see Sweeney Todd? Well quite frankly it was the draw of the actors and all of this said Sweeney Todd was not only catchy lyrically, quite frankly it was diabolically entertaining.
Sweeney Todd is comprised of an insanely talented cast beginning with the titular character played by Josh Groban who is not only a class act and someone to be reckoned with, but I am still scratching my head as to why he has not won a Tony. I saw him in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 and he was truly phenomenal in it. But friends he was made for role of Sweeney Todd. He is the villain you want to hate and yet also feel sorry for given his circumstances. The man strove for revenge and was willing to use Mrs. Lovett and anyone else to get it, and yet Josh Groban brought a morose likability to the character. He played the equal parts of despair and maniacal so well, right down to the last moments.
It was Annaleigh Ashford who stole the show as Mrs. Lovett. She was equal parts hysterical and diabolical. The cockney accent, her chive, comedic timing, and the chemistry with Groban were all incredible. She made the show worth seeing alone!
The cast was rounded out by other a-list performers, like the incredible Ruthie Ann Miles who place the Beggar Woman to perfection, and Jordan Fisher who played Anthony, with a young innocent exuberance who finds himself in love with Johanna played by Maria Bilbao who was charming, and the two had no idea what would befall them.
The Set’s and Songs
It is a Sondheim Show through and through and you can tell by the music alone. That said, unlike other Sondheim productions (though some might disagree, especially because it did remind me of Into The Woods, but I also am not a fan of that show, don’t come at me!) I found that the music was catchier and funnier. I still have The Ballad of Sweeney Todd running through my head.
In today’s day and age where everything is technical, the set was simple and old fashioned which I loved. The crowning Jewel really was the “oven” which opened up underneath the “barbershop.” The wooden set and bear bones of it was perfect for the times in which the musical took place as well. The costumes were stunning, and spoiler alert while their was a ton of blood spilled, and I sympathize with the seamstresses who have to get it out every day, it was incredibly cool to see how they did it. Every time Sweeney Todd had another victim, the audience would gasp.
Sweeney Todd was an incredibly entertaining show, for fans of Sondheim, theatre purists, and just average theatre goers as a whole. It is filled with an insanely talented cast, and the special effects which really do go back to the days where everything wasn’t electronically was insanely cool to see. The music is catchy, and the Lunt-Fontaine theatre, which is one of my favorites, is beautiful and fits the show perfectly. Sweeney Todd is not a warm and fuzzy musical, but it is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours, especially if you love horror, and especially if you want to get in the Halloween spirit.
Have you seen Sweeney Todd? What did you think of it?