The name Sweeney Todd is known to many as one to fear. He is a man of revenge and, frankly, insane ways of thinking. The production of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” at the Midvale Main Street Theater proved no different. The cast members portrayed the show in such a way that it was difficult to not feel any sort of fear or passion for a man like Sweeney Todd.
The original Broadway production of the show opened in 1979. It ran a total of 557 performances and has since been charming its way through the country as an epic thriller and dramatic experience for audience members.
“Sweeney Todd” follows the story of a man named Benjamin Barker (played by Jim Dale) who was convicted of a crime he did not commit. He served 15 years in jail. When he returned home he learned that his daughter Johanna had been taken by the town’s arrogant judge. He also discovers that his wife killed herself after merciless taunts from the townspeople. Full of rage, Barker strategically comes up with a plan for revenge on those who ruined his life. His first act was to change his name to Sweeney Todd and promote himself as the barber of Fleet Street.
The plot thickens as Todd’s close friend Mrs. Lovett (played by Eve Speer) graciously allows him to open a barber shop above her kitchen, where she takes his victims and bakes them into pies.
It is at this point that comedic relief comes in a bit of a strange way, as the duo sings “A Little Priest,” a song devoted to eating people. Their charisma on stage is not only highly entertaining but gives the audience a more comfortable feel as they include them in their rants. These two characters interacted in such a way that audience members would forget any critique they had moments before.
The Midvale Main Street Theater has a huge impact on the audience’s ability to get involved in the production. It is not an enormous theater and because of this, the audience is able to really connect with the characters. It allows them to see the expressions of the characters and better understand what they are feeling. One might even be able to see the sweat of Sweeney Todd as he passionately speaks of his wife’s death. They might also see the minor details placed into the set that wouldn’t have been seen otherwise. The actors, therefore, did not have to embarrass themselves with over-the-top acting, but spent more time simply being their actual character.
Possibly the most entertaining and cutting part of the show was the end as an unexpected twist is filled with traumatic music. The characters themselves were given a different side, which was captivating.
Overall, although the show was not perfect, but because of actors like Jim Dale and Eve Speer, it was completely worth it.
“Sweeny Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street” will be playing at the Midvale Main Street Theater at 7711 South Main Street (700 West) on Nov. 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th and 12th. The show begins at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $10.