Monday, March 14, 2016

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd is the tale of a barber in 19th century London combining dark humor with opera.  Yes, it is in English, funny, adult-oriented and currently being performed at our local Chanticleer Community Theater.
Lust, that is how it all begins.
A barber loved his beautiful wife and daughter.   Unfortunately a judge saw the wife and decided to pursue her.   To get the husband out of the way, he had him arrested and sent to another continent.
Fifteen years later, the barber has returned home and discovers that his wife is dead and the judge adopted his daughter.  Naturally he feels that it is time for justice to prevail.  This is his story of Sweeney Todd, the barber.
Sweeney Todd is unquestionably an adult show.   There is violence and suggestive sexual implications.
The show at Chanticleer is a wonderful show telling the tale of Sweeney Todd.   The production is filled with extremely talented performers explaining the story.  The strength of this show is the story line being beautifully narrated by a variety of voices allowing the audience to view the varying perspectives of each person.
In actuality Sweeney Todd is an urban legend written in stories of various origins which have appeared since the thirteenth century.  No one knows whether or not he really existed.
Our local Chanticleer Community Theater has excelled with this phenomenal production.  Every person on stage, every motion, song, action is well-planned and perfectly enhances this story. 
This is one of those rare production where every person on stage and off is so talented that they could easily be in a major role in any production.  
As with all live performances, each show will be slightly different depending on numerous variables, including the audience.  
On the night I was in the audience, these were my favorite performers.
Unquestionable, the husband and wife team of Chris and Sarah Ebke as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett was outstanding.  Both masterfully commanded the stage with their acting and singing while maintaining the strained and strange relationship between these two main characters.
Personally, I loved David Ebke as Toby.  As he sang "Nothing's Going to Harm You Not While I'm Around" to Mrs. Lovett, I could feel the devoted love of this unloved young man finally finding a caring adult as an adopted parent.   However, Mrs. Lovett didn't feel quite the same.
As the young couple in love, Johanna portrayed by Megan Kelly and Anthony played by Brandon Fisher were wonderful.  These two invigorated the audience with their love and dreams of hope in their being together.
A small role that stood out was the beggar woman who quickly became one of my favorite characters.   Samantha Shatley was phenomenal with her begging and her suggested sexual invitations. 
D. Laureen Pickle obviously shared her experiences and expertise in directing this massive production.  The sets, costumes, hair, make-up, props, back stage crew, program editor, lighting, and sound were phenomenal allowing the audience to view a production with seamless problems so that the audience directed all their attention to the stage.
Supporting the cast was a wonderful orchestra with many keyboards being played by Laurel Andersen Mack, Victory Sedlacek, Kay Johnson, D. Laureen Pickle along with Janet Ratekin Williams and Kristine Wolfe playing woodwinds and Therese Laux on percussion. 
Also as assistant director, Mark Reid, stage manager Jamie Jarecki and technical director Michael Taylor Stewart were wonderful in their support of the cast.   Everything moved as if one person was narrating the story into a spellbinding thriller surrounded by music.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street will continue at Chanticleer Theater located at 830 Franklin Ave. in Council Bluffs through March 20th at 7:30 on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.   The price of the tickets for adults is $20, $16 for seniors over 60 years of age and $10 for students.  For more information and to purchase tickets contact the box office at 712-323-9955 or through their website at
For a wonderful and creative show exhibiting the great talented musicians or for a mysterious tale of urban legend or just an enjoyable, fun performance go see Sweeney Todd.  This show of dark humor with phenomenal music is a must-see for everyone.  

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