Sunday, January 31

Theater Review: Actors Theatre of Indiana: Sweeney Todd

ati carmel indy elizabeth j musgrave
Sweeney Todd (Don Farrell) and Mrs. Lovett (Judy Fitzgerald)

Actors Theatre of Indiana, Carmel, opened the much-anticipated Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street production this weekend.

Familiar to fans of Stephen Sondheim, musicals and Broadway hits; the story became even more well known with the 2007 hit film Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street starring Johnny Depp. As good as the movie is, there are some stories which are best to experience via live theater ~ this is one of those shows.

Don Farrell as Sweeney Todd
Don Farrell takes on the title role of Sweeney Todd, in the black comedy with a sensationally sinister performance. Keeping the murderous role from becoming simply a serial killer on the loose, Farrell brings a vulnerable side of his character to light during, "The Barber and His Wife," allowing the audience to witness the happier youthful version of himself prior to losing his wife and daughter to the corrupt local Judge Turpin (Paul Nicely).

John Vessels as Adolfo Pirelli
Accompanying Todd in his razor-sharp removal of loathsome people is Mrs Lovett, played magnificently by Judy Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald portrays the pie-making enabler with absolute abandon, sharing her contagious delight in the creative solution of her floundering meat pie cafe and Todd's need to slit throats of unworthy folks.

John Vessels is a pure delight as Adolpho Pirelli, the self-proclaimed, "King of Barbers," creating a larger-than-life caricature with his comedic talents. Vessels proves his vocal talent, as well, in the first victim's solo, "The Contest."

Caleb Wertz plays Tobias Ragg, abused waif and assistant to Pirelli then Lovett, with a maturity beyond his years. Craig Underwood takes sleazy to a new level with his portrayal of The Beadle.

The entire cast of this production is seamless and smooth, both in working with each other and portraying their individual characters, with all but the two leads portraying more than one character during the two-act play.

Bottom Line: Sweeney Todd is the best show I have reviewed at Actors Theatre of Indiana and is an absolute must-see for anyone in the Indy-metro area.

Costumes: Katie Cowan Sickmeier
Images: Zach Rosing

Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes two magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as the Travel & Leisure Adviser on FOX59 Morning News Show. She also is a speaker, consultant and trainer for hospitality, travel and luxury businesses, P.R., and tourism groups, as well as a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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