An independent show guide not a venue or show. All tickets 100% guaranteed, some are resale, prices may be above face value. We're an independent show guide not a venue or show. We sell primary, discount and resale tickets, all 100% guaranteed prices may be above face value. We are an independent show guide not a venue or show. We sell primary, discount and resale tickets, all 100% guaranteed and they may be priced above or below face value.

Sweeney Todd / our review

Gothic GLOOMY AND MARVELOUS

Mar 7th, 2024

Kitty

Kitty

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd, now showing at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre through May.

Aaron Tviet and Sutton Foster are on fine form as the titular Demon Barber of Fleet Street and his besotted enabler, Mrs. Lovett (she of the Worst Pies in London).

Stunningly gothic and grisly, spectacular and often very funny, this production from director Thomas Kail (of Hamilton fame) is a masterclass in theatre, offering an A+ introduction to one of Stephen Sondheim's most accessible and enjoyable works. 

Telling the story of an embittered convict who returns from his unjust imprisonment seeking revenge and the terrible way he enacts it, Sweeney Todd is a classic story that's scared schoolchildren for decades. The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: he's the monstrous murderer of unwitting customers of his chair, the bodies of whom just happen to make up the main ingredients in the shop downstairs. The book by Hugh Wheeler, after Christopher Bond, casts Todd as a wronged man, swearing revenge on the man who killed his wife and child. He is driven by the murder of his captors, looking for justice. Mrs. Lovett, the fabled pie shop owner, is driven by Sweeney and money. Quickly seduced by both, she oversees the barber shop's macabre expansion with glee.

Kail has chosen a classic staging. The dark sets by Mimi Lien are vast, giving different levels of depth for the cast to play on, from Sweeney's ingenuous barber-cum-murder parlor to Mrs. Lovett's pie shop, they embody a gritty Victorian London, with bleak fog included. Paired with Nevin Steinberg's sound design and beautiful lighting design from Natasha Katz, they are as important as the cast to help to characterize each scene, adding pops of surprising color into the gloom of London's alleyways. Alongside, Emilio Sosa's costume design gives us a nice portrayal of the period, using lots of texture and layering to build character.

Not exactly known for his catchy hits, Sondheim tends to compose like an artist with paint. Sometimes he is spiky and irregular, yet Sweeney has the benefit of being one of his most accessible scores and his most exciting. There are the clear highlights including the show-stopping opening and closing numbers 'The Ballad of Sweeney Todd' and 'The Worst Pies In London' and sweeter songs like 'Johanna' and 'Not While I'm Around' and this show displays them all admirably.

Sutton Foster undeniably steals every scene she's in, presenting a perfectly pitched Mrs. Lovett, cycling through infatuation and comedy with marvelous ease. Clearly having a great time, her improvisations and attempts to break Tviet's brooding Sweeney are just so fun to watch, even as their con gets ever darker. She's also a phenomenal singer, which helps. 

Aaron Tviet, who is well known for his dashing romantic leads, casts aside his matinee idol status to play the bitter Sweeney Todd. Betrayed, widowed and boiling with rage, he begins quietly, building up his performance in layers until he unleashes his chops before the intermission. It's a smart choice. There had been some chatter if his tenor voice was up to it, but I felt he was able to rise to the challenge. He is very present and plays the wronged man well, embodying Sweeney's dark side with lots of crossed arms, slick razor skills and exhilaratingly choreographed violence.

Among the rest of the cast (three of the following four understudied for our performances) there were fabulous performances from Jonathan Christopher as Beadle Bamford (the uppity right-hand man of Sweeney's sworn enemy, Judge Turpin) and his real-life younger brother Nicholas Christopher as the bombastic scam artist Pirelli.

Mia Pinero and Felix Torrez-Ponce as the young romantic lovers, Johanna and Anthony, bring the light to this dark story, saccharine-voiced and endearing, navigating her bird-like imprisonment at the hands of her sleazy Guardian. They fall in love through a railing and fulfill the 'Marius and Cosette' B story.

As Tobias, the young urchin who unwittingly helps out Todd and Lovett before going mad when he discovers what he's really been selling, Joe Locke (Heartstopper) is both delightful and heartrending, with a fair set of pipes on him.

While it might be closing, this is still a hot ticket. It's an impressive show and a terrific example of how a revival should be done. Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd.

View our show pages for more information about Sweeney Todd, Lunt Fontanne Theater.

Sweeney Todd, Lunt Fontanne Theater, New York

Sweeney Todd

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Lunt Fontanne Theater: Closed May 5, 2024

Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne theatre is transformed into the streets of Victorian London in this brand new staging of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's legendary musical, starring Broadway royalty Aaron...more info

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