Macabre takes on a whole new meaning in the delightfully dark story about a man who decides to exact a unique style of revenge in Scarborough Music Theatre’s latest show, Sweeney Todd.
A high energy, well-executed and extremely entertaining performance is given by this group that takes audiences on a journey into the minds of a murderous couple and some of the twisted minds in this 1846, London, England, tale.
With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler, some may know this story by the 2007 film version starring Johnny Depp, who is known for taking outlandish roles. The stage version is no less bizarre.
Having been wrongly imprisoned, Benjamin Barker returns to London as Sweeney Todd (Andrew Mitchell), and after hearing the fate of his wife, Lucy, who committed suicide after being raped by Judge Turpin (Jason Silzer), Sweeney decides Turpin must pay with his life.
Out for blood, Sweeney feels others in town must pay as well, and decides to re-open the barber shop he once ran as a cover-up for his murderous plans. Instead of a cut or a shave, he will slit their throats.
In any story of revenge and renewal, you need a partner in crime, and pie maker, Mrs. Lovett (Laurie Hurst), is the perfect accomplice. They conspire that once he kills, the barber chair, which doubles as a trap door, will drop the victims to Mrs. Lovett’s bakery below where they will become an ingredient in her meat pies.
To make Sweeny more crazed, he also finds out Judge Turpin also took his daughter Johanna (Emma Burke-Kleinman) and wants to save her. He finds an ally in Anthony (Matthew Hyslop), who notices Johanna in the window of the Turpin’s home, and the two devise a plan to free her.
There are a lot of creepy things going on in this story, and the show is ideal for fans of the genre. But murder, indecencies to, and consumption of, human bodies aside, this production is extremely well-done and boasts an amazing ensemble cast.
The ramblings of a crazed beggar woman (Elizabeth Van Wyck), who is saner than one may perceive, acts as a truth teller and adds another amazingly eerie element to this show.
The musical numbers ranged from haunting, as seen in the opening number The Ballad of Sweeney Todd to the jovial number God, That’s Good in which the townspeople sing as they enjoy their “special ingredient” pies.
The set is simple, except for the ingenious chair/trap door contraption that drops the bodies to the bakery below and to the realistic-looking oven where the pies are baked.
There are so many stand-out performances, including Burke-Kleinman and Hyslop singing Johanna and Anthony’s duet, Kiss Me. Their voices pair well, and Burke-Kleinman’s falsetto voice is beautiful. Silzer gives a chilling performance of the evil Judge Turpin, and induces shivers in his creepy number entitled Johanna.
Mitchell is commanding and strong in his performance of Sweeney Todd, and embodies his murderous, twisted character, well. He also has a powerful singing voice that’s perfectly complements in scenes with Hurst, who is amazing as Mrs. Lovett. The pair’s scenes together were some of the best in the show.
This show will make you cringe and laugh, and has an ending you won’t soon forget.
Sweeney Todd runs until Feb. 23, 8 p.m. at the Scarborough Village theatre, 3600 Kingston Rd. General admission tickets are $25. For tickets call 416-267-9292 or visit www.theatrescarborough.com