Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Reviews: Sweeney Todd at the Paramount Theatre, October 31 - November 1

From the perceptive review by KariKross at, dated November 4:

The touring company is very fine both as actors and musicians, and Carrie Cimma's Mrs. Lovett was especially notable, whether shaking her bum in time to her tuba-playing during "Pirelli's Miracle Elixir," gleefully swapping puns and bad jokes with Sweeney in "A Little Priest," or breaking down at last in the unrelenting finale. This isn't Angela Lansbury's blowsy music-hall turn; this performance, based on Patti LuPone's, is more Weimar cabaret with a touch of Goth style in her ripped fishnet stockings. She was well-matched by Merritt David James's Sweeney, whose singing voice has some of the tenor qualities of Johnny Depp's voice bolstered with theatrical firepower like that which Michael Cerveris brought to the role on Broadway. . . .

This production of Sweeney Todd is a deceptively simple staging, reading at first almost like an experimental black-box theatre piece. The simplicity is in fact the result of a well-oiled machine, and the actors don't miss a beat in the transitions from scene to scene and from acting to music and back again. And in the end, the minimal elegance of the staging allows the audience to focus on the beauty, discords, and humor of the music, and on the emotional heft of the story. It's not a museum piece; it's a living work of art.

[Click for text of full review]

From the review by Laura Cole posted by the Daily Texan:

Though the entire cast is talented, Carrie Cimma stands out in both vocals and acting as Mrs. Lovett, with her brash, domineering personality, strong cockney accent, physicality and comedic timing. Her duet with Merritt David Janes drew the most laughs of the night in “A Little Priest,” a song filled with puns about the people they plan to bake into meat pies. Janes also performs solidly as Sweeney Todd, especially notable for his power over dynamics in songs like “Epiphany,” a song of both vengeance and mourning, that jumps between fierce staccato and softer, more sustained stretches of vocals. Chris Marchant gives an incredible performance as Tobias. Along with some of the strongest vocals and instrumentals in the cast, his characterization of the mentally unstable boy is utterly convincing.

Those who opted to spend their Halloween at the theater enjoyed a real treat.

[Click for text of full review]

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