What do you get when you mix a vengeful barber and a struggling baker? Meat pies made with human meat of course. And that’s in a nutshell Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
The story is set in Nineteenth century England, and follows Sweeney Todd, a barber, who returns to London after 15 years in exile. When he finds out that his wife poisoned herself after being raped by the judge who sent him away, he vows revenge. He teams up with Mrs. Lovett, a pie maker, and opens a barbershop where he slits the throats of customers giving them over to Mrs. Lovett to bake into pies.
Sweeney Todd is one of Stephen Sondheim’s masterpieces. While the show is dark and dramatic, there are many moments of humor and lightheartedness.
As is expected with any production at Slow Burn the cast is excellent; the staging is top-notch; the performances are outstanding. At 2 and half hours though the show is long. But don’t worry it doesn’t feel like a 2 and half hour show. Some productions of Sweeney are cut down because of its length, but Slow Burn chose not to.
While the entire cast did a spectacular job with little fault, it was some of the minor characters that really stood out.
“I liked Tobias. He was excellent, fantastic. He has a really good voice,” commented Jeff Wolmetz of Delray Beach. Kevin Klein of Delray felt the same. “The performance that I thought was the best was actually Tobias singing Not While I’m Around.”
Bruno Vida plays Tobias and surprisingly it’s his first time in a professional production. He’s still in high school and performed in The King and I at Lake Worth Playhouse last October.
Vida wasn’t the only standout; the beggar woman played by Ann Marie Olson did an impressive job with her limited role. Each time she came on stage I wanted more of her.
“The beggar woman was also fantastic,” Wolmetz said, with Klein agreeing.
She played the part of a crazed woman to perfection.
And finally there’s Johanna played by Kaela Antolino. She recently starred in Slow Burn’s production of Side Show where she shined. Unfortunately this role didn’t give her as many opportunities to stand out, but when she sings, it’s delicious, always leaving you craving more.
Now that’s not to say the main characters didn’t live up to expectations. They did. Matthew Korinko as Sweeney and Karen Chandler as Mrs. Lovett both played their parts well and hit all the right notes.
“The show was very, very good. The entire cast performed very well. It was very dramatic. It was solemn. And it had a little bit of comedy,” Klein said. While Wolmetz added: “Slow Burn is the best Theater company around here in South Florida.”
Theater critics will be pleased to know that Slow Burn will finally get to compete next season in the local Carbonell Awards. Up to this point their shows haven’t last long enough to qualify. But two of their shows next season will do so, with Next to Normal being the first in October.