Pin It
Favorite

A Shave and a Cut Throat 

Lake City Playhouse proves that Sweeney Todd is more than just a “musical thriller”

click to enlarge Abbey Crawford (left), Micah Lynn (center) and Daniel Bell are all part of Lake City\'s stunning Sweeney Todd cast. - SCOTT JOHNSON
  • Scott Johnson
  • Abbey Crawford (left), Micah Lynn (center) and Daniel Bell are all part of Lake City\'s stunning Sweeney Todd cast.

What is it about Victorian London that lends itself to the macabre? Whenever we peer through that miasma of fog and factory soot, we seem to find madness, squalor and depravity in abundance, whether it’s Jack the Ripper mutilating prostitutes out of some deep-seated sexual frustration, or an interminable list of crimes that can only be solved by a depressed, drug-addicted detective named Sherlock Holmes. Not even a charming Dickensian veneer has the ability to smooth the sharp, sinister edges of that particular time and place.

Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s 1979 adaptation of Sweeney Todd has its own sharp, sinister edges — chief among them a straight razor. That is Benjamin Barker’s weapon of choice when, in his new guise as Todd, he returns to London (a city he contemptuously greets as “a hole in the world like a great black pit/ and the vermin of the world inhabit it”) on a quest for vengeance after serving a 15-year sentence in an Australian penal colony. As Todd (Daniel Bell) reveals to his shipmate Anthony (Brendan Brady), he was exiled there by Judge Turpin (Kent Kimball) so the scheming judge could pursue Barker’s wife without interference.

That alone would be sufficient for Todd’s monomaniacal revenge fantasy. But the roots of his misery are in fertile soil. Nellie Lovett (Abbey Crawford), an unscrupulous bakery owner, divulges to Todd that his wife poisoned herself after being raped by Turpin. Their 1-year-old daughter Johanna (Caitlin Duffey) then became the ward of the judge, who has designs to marry her. Small wonder why Todd is hell bent on luring Turpin and his henchman Beadle Bamford (Daniel McKeever) to his barber’s chair. This being Victorian London, however, even premeditated murder is too tame. Anyone with stubble is a potential ingredient in Mrs. Lovett’s secret recipe.

Bell plays a stoic, somber Sweeney Todd, perfectly complemented by the more animated, infatuated Crawford. Like many members of the cast, her cockney accent comes and goes (Bell’s steady baritone is for the most part geographically nondescript), but her singing is strong and performance beguiling. Brady, who was equally well cast as the smug, smutty Hänschen of Spring Awakening, appears here alongside Duffey as the embodiment of naiveté and youth; both have noticeable sweet spots in their vocal range but few limits to their stage presence.

As the apprentice to the ill-fated con artist Adolpho Pirelli (Lance Babbit, as reliable a comic highlight as ever), Evan Figuracion generally keeps cool in the glare of the spotlight. Despite an occasionally erratic flute, the unseen five-person orchestra under Carolyn Jess played with enough confidence to be heard from somewhere in the recesses backstage.

Although Sweeney Todd bills itself as a “musical thriller,” it’s much more than that: a character study in evil and despair, a wickedly witty dark comedy, a collection of memorable show tunes. With help from the solid directing of George Green, all these qualities are in evidence on Lake City’s modest stage. 

Sweeney Todd • Thu-Sat 7:30 pm, Sun 2 pm, through March 3 • $11-$17 • Lake City Playhouse • 1320 E. Garden Ave., Coeur d’Alene • lakecityplayhouse.org • 208-667-1323

  • Pin It

Latest in Arts & Culture

  • NEVER 
GONNA 
GIVE 
YOU UP
  • NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP

    Nostalgia for the '80s remains in hyperdrive. Why does the era's pop culture still resonate?
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Remnants 
of Rome
  • Remnants of Rome

    Gonzaga's hit Ancient Roman exhibition is a look into the past and the capability of the university's museum
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • ART | FIRST FRIDAY
  • ART | FIRST FRIDAY

    It's the final Spokane art stroll of the year
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
The Christmas Show feat. Ellen Travolta

The Christmas Show feat. Ellen Travolta @ The Coeur d'Alene Resort

Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 18

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by E.J. Iannelli

  • The Bart of Storytelling
  • The Bart of Storytelling

    An eclectic dark comedy at Gonzaga draws on The Simpsons to reflect on the notion of stories
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Across the Decades
  • Across the Decades

    A Piece of My Heart explores the experiences of six women during the Vietnam War
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • THEATER | Chicago
  • THEATER | Chicago

    A sultry, mesmerizing romp at The Modern Theater Spokane
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

Readers also liked…

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation