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The Demon of Barber Street makes a spectacular cut at the Chandler Studio Theatre

Posted By Karen Young On October 6, 2009 @ 11:50 pm In Arts & Culture,Featured,My Daily Find,spotlight,Theater | No Comments

amylyons110BY AMY LYONS

A spectacular, larger-than-life show inhabits a small stage at the Chandler Studio Theatre, where The Production Company is staging Stephen Sondheim’s sarcastic slasher story, “Sweeney Todd.”

Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett

Sweeney Todd (Kurt Andrew Hansen) and Mrs. Lovett (Donna Pieroni), his sidekick, plot. Photo: The Production Company

The tiny stage brims with blood and booming singing voices as the company once again proves that scant physical space isn’t an excuse for exclusively sticking to solo shows or two-handers.

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Jenny Ashman and Brian Maples

Kurt Andrew Hansen plays the revenge-seeking Sweeney with solid gusto. His gray-haired, ruddy-faced rendering of the character indicates an appropriate level of world-weariness. When singing one or another maniacal song, Hansen’s striking low notes signal a boiling contempt that lives way at the bottom of Sweeney’s bloodthirsty gut. This barber has come back to his hometown to avenge the loss of his wife and daughter, the former of whom he doesn’t recognize as she roams the streets begging for dough, the latter of whom he intends to save from the clutches of an evil captor, Judge Turpin (Weston I. Nathanson). The daughter, fair-haired Johanna (Jenny Ashman), is in love with Anthony (Brian Maples) and wants out of her icky relationship with the judge, her father figure and would-be husband. Exacting revenge on the town that turned its back on him, Sweeney slits throats when he should be doling out shaves. But it all goes wrong when he spills the blood of loved ones.

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The use of the small stage for this production is nothing short of brilliant. Photo: The Production Co.

Of course, Sweeney’s sidekick, Mrs. Lovett (Donna Pieroni) is just as hungry as the malicious barber, but her appetite for murder has more to do with success, less to do with revenge. Her self-made meat pies aren’t selling until she incorporates body parts from Sweeney’s killing spree into the recipe. As the bodies pile up, the meat pies become a favorite snack for the townsfolk. Pieroni plays the ultimately comical character with wild-eyed humor and full-on greed, in an entirely watchable, amusing turn. Also in the realm of comedy, R. Christofer Sands is a complete crack-up as Pirelli, Sweeney’s competition in  barbershop expertise. He’s like an overly flamboyant magician at a party for little kids, trying to dazzle but succeeding in complete foppery. Director Derek Charles Livingston pulls together the cast of killers, lovers, and Dickensian innocents with precision.

For tickets, call (800)838-3006. The Chandler Studio Theatre is located at 12443 Chandler Blvd.  Through November 22.

Amy Lyons is a professional freelance journalist and theatre critic, with a degree in Theatre Arts and English from UMass, Boston. She started her journalism career at The Boston Globe and is a member of the Drama Critics Circle. Her articles, theatre reviews and photos regularly appear in numerous publications, including the Beverly Press, Valley Life Magazine, the Santa Monica Mirror and www.nohoartsdistrict.com

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