Interestingly, there have been several incarnations of "Sweeney Todd," including films and a ballet. Composer Stephen Sondheim had originally intended the musical to be performed in an intimate setting versus the giant Uris Theatre (now the Gershwin). To be honest, I was curious and a bit skeptical, considering the small theater space that is the Onyx Theatre. However, I was quickly impressed with all facets of the production.
This production is chock full of strong acting and vocal performances. I absolutely loved the delightfully devious chemistry between Todd (Chris Mayse) and Lovett (Kellie Wright) throughout the show. I especially appreciated Mayse's takes and reaction to the things going on around him. I had no doubt that he was completely immersed into this classic character.
I found Troy Tinker (Tobias Ragg) to be the strongest character actor in the cast, with his vocals and acting both being top rate. Other fantastic character actors include Randy Brown (Judge Turpin), Bill Flynn (Beadle Bamford), Kim Glover (Beggar Woman) and Michael Drake (Adolfo Pirelli).
I was impressed with the vocals of Alexa Freeman (Johanna) and Scott Gibson-Uebele (Anthony Hope), especially when they were paired together. Their hopeful romantic scenes were a nice departure from the otherwise grim plotlines. A strong chorus rounds out a cast that did a fantastic job with articulation, considering the score's extremely difficult, quick tempos.
I cannot say enough about the staging for this production. As I mentioned before, the Onyx has plenty of challenges due to its smaller size, but it never hampered the production. Most impressive was the turntable that was effectively used for quick transitions. The show had a professional flow to it which certainly enhanced my enjoyment of the performance.
Kudos to the various designers (Isaias Hiram Urrabazo for costumes, Kelli Jean Groskopf for lights, David Sankuer for set design, Dustin Scott for sound), stage manager Deanne Grace and the tech crew for creating such a wonderful interpretation of Fleet Street.
The musical direction of Chris Lash and Zoe Kohen Ley was also excellent. The talented five piece orchestra was the perfect fit for this size production.
Congratulations to Director Brandon Burk for creating such a fresh and interesting interpretation of this classic story. This is a must see for all local theatre patrons.
"Sweeney Todd" runs through Jan. 20 at the Onyx Theatre, 953 East Sahara Avenue #16 in Las Vegas. For info or tickets, call 702-732-7225 or visit www.onyxtheatre.com.