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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
SWEENEY TODD
at Barrow Street Theatre

TASTY TREAT
By SANDY MACDONALD


The pre-show pie is optional, but you’d be a fool to skip it. The producers and designers have done their best to replicate the best pie-shop experience in London – at Harringtons (est. 1908), whose HQ housed a site-specific 2014 production before the SRO show transferred to the West End. Lucky for us, several of the principals have crossed the pond along with the pastry, enhancing both quality and authenticity.
 
The minute Mrs. Lovett (mischievous Siobhán McCarthy) starts decrying her own repugnant endeavors in the pastry department, you know you’re in good hands. What an extraordinary opportunity this is, to hear Sondheim’s glorious score unamped and up close! Jeremy Secomb is riveting as the title character. He is indeed odd of eye – if he happens to fix his onyx stare on you, beware – but also magnificent of voice. Their wicked duet “A Little Priest" – odds are, you’ve never heard it served up so well.
 
Fellow imports Duncan Smith and Joseph Taylor both acquit themselves brilliantly as, respectively, concupiscent Judge Turpin and Toby, the sacrificial innocent. Newcomers to the cast, however, can be a bit uneven. Betsy Morgan, as the beggar woman, is insufficiently plangent/raunchy, and Brad Oscar overplays the Beadle (secondary characters need to know their place). As Anthony and Joanna, the young lovers-at-first-sight, Matt Doyle and Alex Finke, are superbly equipped both vocally and dramatically. They sing divinely yet are loose and goofy enough to bring out the humor in “Kiss Me.”
 
The space, chockablock with plank tables and benches to accommodate the smallish audience, is a bit cramped for the antic denouement. Where exactly is that oven? Wasn’t Joanna-in-drag hiding there just a minute ago? But you didn’t come for a tidy rendition of a beloved classic. You came for nonpareil pie, in the flesh.

 


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