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If there’s a more seasonably appropriate musical, I can’t name it. ‘Sweeney Todd’ at Porchlight Music Theatre is an excellent way to spend a chilly October evening. Kicking off a season of Sondhiem, director Michael Weber hits it out of the park with this intimate black box production.
In a role originated by Angela Lansbury, Rebecca Finnegan offers a perhaps definitive performance as Mrs. Lovett. Finnegan resumes the role for which she won a Jeff Award in 2005. With a husky voice and an equally balanced amount of vulnerability and derangement, Finnegan is magnetic from her first number to her final moment.
Not to be outdone by his co-star, David Girolmo in the title role, gives quite the opposite performance than wooden Johnny Depp in the 2007 film adaptation. Girolmo brings a certain warmth and depth to his Todd that gives the audience an actual sense of pathos for a serial killer. His soaring vocals especially in ‘Pretty Women.’ make his quest for revenge all the more thrilling.
A nice mixture of new talent with established stars give this piece an unexpected diversity. Kevin Webb’s nearly rubber physicality in the role of Pirelli brings much light into the first act. Miles Blim’s Toby couldn’t be more exact casting, the audience shares a collective exhale after his final sequence at the end of the show. The ensemble here is also quite impressive. Company numbers ‘The Ballad of Sweeney Todd’ and ‘God, That’s Good’ set a well-paced tempo for each act. There’s no shortage of incredible voices in this show.
Porchlight’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ stands out in its highly stylized presentation of this often-produced classic. Typically this musical requires a fair amount of trimmings and special effects but Jeffrey D. Kmiec’s decidely minimal approach to staging is a perfect backdrop for the elaborate music. Minimalism only showcases Sondheim’s brilliant lyricism and storytelling, this production is so laden with talent it could go even more sparse and still achieve a bloody good show. (John J. Accrocco)
Sweeney Todd at Porchlight Music Theatre. At Stage 773 – 1225 W Belmont Ave. Through November 9th