Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is one of those musicals that makes people who generally think they like musicals realize they maybe don’t. Like “Oh I just loved Wicked and Les Mis, let’s go see this Sweeney Todd. It’s Sondheim!”

Yeah. Well.

Sweeney Todd
Anne Tolpegin as Mrs. Lovett.

It’s Sondheim alright, but don’t expect a jaunt Into the Woods. This macabre play centers on a serial-killing barber in London and is based on an 1846 Penny Dreadful series. It will make you think twice about Sondheim (and about getting a straight-razor shave or ordering a meat pie). It’s original production opened in 1979 staring Angela Lansbury and it won eight Tony Awards. Since then it’s kicked around in the darker corners of the theater world, resurfacing in a revival here and there, notably the 2017 Off-Broadway revival that transformed Barrow Street Theatre in the village into a working re-creation of Harrington’s pie shop. By now, you’ve guessed where the meat for the pies comes from, right? Note: Delaney Westfall, who portrays Johanna in the Pioneer production, played the same role at the Barrow.

I’ve never seen Sweeney Todd, but have friends who loved the most recent revival, I’m excited to see what Pioneer Theater Company does with this tale. Maybe they’ll be cooking up something special at the concessions stand during intermission?

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opens Oct. 26 and continues through Nov. 10, 2018. For tickets and information, visit pioneertheatre.org.

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