Nothing says romance like a mass murderer: Theatre Review

Sweeney Todd, ACT
“God, that’s good!”

My brother and sister in law celebrated their first anniversary last month. In keeping with the tradition of paper as the gift, I bought us all tickets to the national tour of Broadway’s recent revival of musical Sweeney Todd. Thanks to a subplot in Kevin Smith’s wrongly maligned Jersey Girl, even my frat boy brother has become a fan of The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Combine that with rave reviews on both coasts and a nearly intact Broadway cast and you have theatrical magic in the City by the Bay.

Sweeney Todd follows Benjamin Barker, a barber whose beautiful wife was brutally gang-raped and driven to suicide. He returns to London to find his long-lost daughter, Johanna, and take revenge on the crooked Judge Turpin and his henchman, the Beadle. Barker joins forces with equally bloodthirsty Mrs. Lovett and their combination barber shop and meat pie shop starts making money. It isn’t too long before others see the connection between vanished locals and the infamous pies.

Sweeney Todd has always been an anti-musical musical. It is morbid and dark, a story ridden with lust, murder, and obsession. There is no cutesy romance or happy ending. This latest incarnation is even more innovative. It boasts a cast that serves as its own orchestra and set crew. In other words, they act, dance, sing, play multiple instruments, and move the scenery and props. And they do all things amazingly well.

Bravo! Bring on the razors and creepy moments.

*Sweeney Todd plays at the ACT through October 14th

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