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REVIEW: ‘Sweeney Todd’ is bewildering yet beautiful

Valeria Nalani
The cast of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” takes a final bow after the show. The University of Arizona School of Theatre, Film and Television offers a new take on Hugh Wheeler’s chilling tale “Sweeney Todd.”

If you’re familiar with Broadway or musicals, you may have heard the buzz surrounding “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” over the years: a heartbroken man seeking revenge 15 years later, all through his reminiscence of his beautiful wife and child.

The London barber decides to go back to his roots, all with the application of his razor, and sharply chooses vengeance through his customers. Entering the Marroney Theatre, I had zero expectations of what was to come.

The University of Arizona School of Theatre, Film and Television delivered a beautiful, unsettling and bewildering take on Hugh Wheeler’s chilling tale. 

As the lights dimmed, people silenced themselves, and a disturbing melody rippled through the theater. It was evident the performance was going to be executed with power. 

UA architecture student Mariel Howe attended the play and also appreciated how the performance was delivered.   

“I had zero expectations, but I was so surprised by the plot and how the whole play was executed. The ending was crazy,” Howe said. 

I found that the UA has raw, gut-wrenching talent. James Kelley Carroll, who portrayed Sweeney Todd, was quite literally a passionate performer. Carroll’s delivery, tone and understanding of Todd created an alluring performance. When Carroll sang, spoke or moved, he captivated the audience. Opposite of Carroll, Grace Gebara, who played a devoted Mrs. Lovett, was phenomenal. The audience adored Gebara as she delivered each line with ease. 

The violent emotion displayed a sensation only those in the room could comprehend. It was magnetic, a true masterpiece. Director Danny Gurwin illustrated a story with violence and hurt through a unique perspective. After viewing the play, I think that every person who was a part of this project is going to achieve great triumph in their intended career. The vocals, harmony and active response to one another were incredible.

Elliot Taylor, a UA student studying environmental and water resource economics and music, attended the show and also noticed the cast’s talent. 

“I really liked the vocalist who played Johanna; she had such a beautiful voice. I was blown away by the talent and how good the singers and acting were. There were times when I literally got shivers; it was intense,” Taylor said. 

I recommend “Sweeney Todd” for both those who know nothing about the plot and those who are highly familiar with it because the cast’s execution adds a fresh taste that must be seen in person. This new take on Wheeler’s chilling tale provides a never-before-seen experience and fresh perspective for audiences to embark on. 

Kayla Luedeman, a UA student studying veterinary science, was unfamiliar with the play and was delighted by the dynamic plot portrayed on the stage.  

“I was told it was going to be a musical, but I had no idea it would be this! I was completely blown away,” Luedeman said. “Sweeney Todd” will run through March 17 at Marroney Theatre. I highly encourage you to spend an afternoon down Fleet Street.

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