They did good. They really did. The first musical in 13 years on the Yuba College campus, and it went off without a hitch. The singing, the scenery, the acting, the singing, the timing, the singing, the humor, and of course the singing were all wonderfully performed and without flaw. My ticket was money well spent.
Curtain opens and this ethereal, foggy blue light bathes the set, outlining a single figure. He turns, he doesn’t smile. His expression is, if anything, melancholy as he opens the introductory number for Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Melancholy and perhaps a bit defiant, as if daring the audience to not believe that the story we are about to see is untrue. Sweeney’s tale isn’t a happy story, I will give that much away right now, though it is quite delightful to watch.
As previously reported, the lead role was played by our own David DuPlantier, and it was played very well. His voice was strong and held, with an almost (dramatic pause) psychopathic control. Though he was definitely pinker and healthier-looking than a 19th century psychopath had any right to be, his performance was believable as he sang sweet nothings to deadly sharp straight razors. And the smile he affected as he slit the throat of a hapless customer was believably blissful.
Mrs. Lovett, played by returning talent Stephanie Bollinger was likewise as professional and, dare I use the word, captivating. I don’t mean to spoil it, but the casual air of practical sociopathy was not only accurate (as accurate as could be on broadway), but also done with such humor and charisma that I didn’t care when she made an offhanded suggestion that “Mr.T” “do in” some innocent young sailor as the most expedient way of resolving a situation.
Speaking of, the voice and timing of Alex Cesena was positively perfect for the character of Anthony Hope. So high and boyish, yet strong and passionate when it needed to be. I fear my heart would have been broken had he (Anthony) actually pulled the trigger and destroyed his own unwavering inability to commit evil.
In giving kudos where they are due, I cannot overlook the portrayal of Aldolfo Pirelli, done by Kieth Mathews, whose over-the-top accent and high-energy-style of acting worked well. It was a role it was obvious he enjoyed, and I could see why, as it allowed him to practice comedic and dramatic themes of timing and expression. The smiles he shot the audience as he serenaded a group of gawking Fleet Streeters out of their coin was particularly memorable; an alchemical mix of wolf and used car salesman.
Alex Yemada, in the role of Judge Turpin was another stand-out for me. So big and menacing, yet able to project an air of (inadequate) puritanical control over his character’s personal demons, you quickly forget that there isn’t an Anglican feature on him. Not to mention the effortless skill as he and The Beadle (played by Travis Leonard) talked about the rather disturbing subjects of step-marriage. It simply sucked me into the moment, and I could not get out.
In all, it was more than enjoyable, it was manipulative, and that my dear reader is a good thing. As said, it took me into the moment, and I not only couldn’t leave but I found that I couldn’t. There are only two more chances to see this wonderful performance, and I would really recommend you shell out the money and take them.
Yes, I just suggested that you see it twice.
It’s that good.