If Musical Thrillers are your cup of tea, Palm Beach Dramaworks’ “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is served up hot, dark and acidic. Stephen Sondheim’s caustic wit and the killer cast stir up a libation that goes down—unlike Mr. Todd’s straight-edge—easy on the throat.
Based on the book by Hugh Wheeler, the show plays through August 5th at the theater’s Clematis Street location. PBD offers viewers under 40 the chance to “pay their age” for admission. So if you’re 18, then tickets cost $18. No matter what the age, attendees will be disturbingly entertained as they sip this perfect brew of genius wordplay, gritty Dickensian setting and razor-sharp execution.
After serving an ill-deserved 15-year sentence in Australia, Mr. Todd is propelled on a path of revenge. When he is unable to “do in” the shady judge, Sweeney turns on the London common folk. In the song, “The Barber and His Wife,” he justifies his barber-ic shaving methods:
There’s a hole in the world
Like a great black pit
And the vermin of the world
And its morals aren’t worth
What a pig could spit,
And it goes by the name of London.
Sondheim’s dissonant, yet hauntingly beautiful melodies are steeped with commentary on the human condition. Under the direction of Clive Cholerton—and with top-notch actors like Ruthie Stephens (Mrs. Lovett), Shane Tanner (Sweeney Todd) and Paul Louis Lessard (Anthony Hope)—“The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” delivers a strong blend of depravity and dark love.
Come take a hearty gulp of Sweeny Todd at Palm Beach Dramaworks. Like me, however, you might pass on the pie that’s for sale during intermission—or at least eye it suspiciously…