Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 14, 2010

Sweeney Todd

Opera House Players, Broad Brook, CT
through November 28, 2010
by K. J. Rogowski

From beginning to end, the Opera House Players' production of "Sweeney Todd" pulls the audience into the dark, scheming, and tragic world of the demon barber of Fleet Street. This is the place where the plotting of a man obsessed with revenge, merges with the greed of a woman, in a delightfully wicked concoction of songs and scenes told in the dramatic tradition of a 19th century British penny dreadful.

The visual of the street dwellers, with their sunken eyes and tattered clothes, extolling the audience to "attend the tale of Sweeney Todd," in the very opening scene sets the tone. Erica Romeo and Steve Wandzy as Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney, respectively, nicely complement each other, with    Romeo's lively and opportunistic Mrs. Lovett teamed with Wandzy's withdrawn and plotting Todd. The two work well in their songs together, topped off with the rousing, "A Little Priest" in Act I.

The supporting cast provides a strong chorus for the story's exposition, and some fine individual moments. Among these are Eric Rehm and Janet Pohli as the star crossed lovers, Anthony and Johanna, struggling to escape the twisted reality they have become entangled with; Tim Reilly as the bombastic barber Pirelli, who threatens to undo Todd's meticulous plotting: and Stephen Jewell as the simple, yet ferociously loyal Tobias.

The set design and changes work well, jumping among Lovett's pie shop, the streets of London, Judge Turpin's residence, Bedlam House, and the dank cellar where those mysteriously tasty pies are made. Under the direction of Anna Giza, the Opera House Players have brewed up a night's entertainment replete with songs and characters that give a laugh and a chill as they reveal the inner workings of the strange world of Sweeney Todd.