By Brigid Ambuul
From the moment you step inside the doors, you’ll be hooked.
Patio Playhouse has brought the dark undertones of 19th-century London to the streets of Escondido with their youth production of Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” This isn’t your grandmother’s glitzy, singsong musical — the twisted tale of a vengeful barber with a taste for blood is not for the faint of heart. The dimly lit walk from the lobby to your seat is enough to get your pulse racing.
Under the direction of Laurissa Rudgers, the cast of “Sweeney Todd” is a cohesive body of storytellers who weave a chilling tapestry of the darkest aspects of human nature. Outstanding performances among the leads often leave you wondering where the fiction of the story begins and ends. Zane Stewart, in the titular role, is brooding, cynical and almost too convincing as the sadistic coiffeur spirals into madness. Beside him, Sierra Weis as Todd’s lovelorn counterpart, Mrs. Lovett, delivers quick wit and stunning vocals.
Coupled with the richness of the performances, the intimate and creative set design make for a chillingly immersive audience experience. You’ll turn to your left to witness the rendezvous of the star-crossed Anthony and Johanna, and later shiver as Sweeney himself passes through the fog on your right. Moments like these are what made the show stand out to me amongst others that I’ve seen. The show resonates with you, captivates you, reminds you that monsters don’t always have sharp teeth and claws. And the distance between you and Broadway’s darkest characters is barely the swipe of a straight razor.
If you’re looking for an escape from the mundane, consider being whisked away to a dark corner of Londontown for a night of horror and thrills. If you relish a dark tale of love, loss and murder, Patio’s “Sweeney Todd” is a horrifying delight. The show runs from March 23 to April 8 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7 pm and on Sundays at 2 pm. I, for one, hope to return for a second helping. Visit www.patioplayhouse.com for reservations and more information.
Aren’t you curious to know who will fall under the Demon Barber’s glinting blade?
This review was submitted by a local high school student after coming to see Sweeney Todd: School Edition. Sweeney Todd closes on Sunday, April 8, 2018.
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