Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Waco Civic Theatre is performing "Sweeney Todd" until Nov. 6. This spooky performance is filled with romance and morbidity. Photo credit: Courtesy Photo

By Lindsey McLemore | Reporter

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is not for the faint of heart.

Filled with romance and morbidity, “Sweeney Todd” tells the story of a barber who returns to London from serving a jail sentence for a crime he did not commit. Sweeney Todd, the barber, returns to find that his wife has poisoned herself and the judge who sent him to prison has adopted his now teenage daughter, Joanna.

Todd opens a barbershop above Mrs. Lovett’s meat pie shop, where Todd takes revenge on his enemies, giving them the closest (and last) shave they’ll ever get and then leaving their remains with Mrs. Lovett to be turned into meat pies.

Waco Civic Theatre performed Stephen Sondheim’s complicated 1979 musical score to near perfection on Sunday.

The beautiful ensemble harmonies were tight with few noticeable errors.

The dueling duets featured in “Kiss Me” were very impressive. Joanna (Caroline Bowman) and Anthony (Tim Griffin) could be heard clearly despite Todd (Seth Sutton) and Judge Turpin, (Bill Selby) singing about something completely different on the other side of the stage, which combined to create a beautiful harmony.

Fans of the film version, directed by Tim Burton in 2007, will be delighted to see the musical go even deeper and darker into the mind of the deplorable Judge Turpin and see more personality and development in characters like The Beadle, Judge Turpin’s right-hand man.

Despite the cast’s beautiful performance, some interesting choices in costuming were distracting.

“Sweeney Todd” is set in mid-19th century London, which was easily portrayed through period clothing and set design. However, some ensemble cast members wore hats and goggles more resembling modern steam punk fashion than 1850s Victorian fashion.

Those steam punk accessories took away from the terror normally instilled by “Sweeney Todd” and made those characters seem more cartoonish than ghoulish.

A steam punk version of “Sweeney Todd” does sound interesting, but in this case, having those types of accessories on only a small number of characters was a distraction from the otherwise beautiful performance.

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is a delightfully dark musical, perfect for getting in a good scare around Halloween.

Rated PG-13, “Sweeney Todd” features violence, sexual innuendo and strong language. This musical is definitely not suitable for children.

But be sure to try the meat pies at concession. They’re delicious.