BWW Review: SWEENEY TODD IN CONCERT: Theater UnCorked Pops!

Theater UnCorked Presents

Sweeney Todd in Concert

A Pop-Up Musical Benefit Performance

June 2nd, 7:30 pm, at First Church Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA

Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Hugh Wheeler, Presented by Special Arrangement with MTI

Directed by Allison Olivia Choat, Musical Direction by Gina Naggar; Props Design, Matthew Lazure; Costume Design, Anne Silva, Maureen Festa; Hair & Makeup, Marc Capizzi; Assistant Stage Manager, Kailey Bennett

CAST (in order of appearance): Ben Discipio, Jordan Reynolds, Shana Dirik, Christopher Porth, Audrey Clark, Catherine Lee Christie, Matthew Zahnzinger, Alex Boyle, Jason Hersom; Ensemble: Lenni Alexandra Kmiec, Devon Stone, Lydian Devere Yard, Taylor Hilliard, Steven Littlehale, Marie Gertje, Benjamin Simon, Michael Saenz, Sarah Jones, Meghan Edge, Margaret Felice, Meghan Ryan, Stephanie Charlton, Joelle Kross, Stefani Wood, Joan Covino, Carol Smolinsky; Youth Ensemble: Ekin Cakim, Erin Cesmeli, Carla Loutfi, Lily Ramras, Melia Demirtas, Mina Belir, Gabrielle Grau

Boston's newest small theater company christened its inaugural season with a one-night only, pop-up musical benefit performance of Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street In Concert on Saturday, June 2nd, at First Church Cambridge. The brain-child and labor of love of Producing Artistic Director Shana Dirik, Theater UnCorked may be new and may be small, but its arrival is worthy of a champagne toast (break out the good stuff) for its professionalism, its broad expanse of talent, and its pluck and determination in the face of last-minute snafus.

Under the direction of newly-minted Elliot Norton Award-winner Allison Olivia Choat, a cast of more than thirty and a sixteen-piece orchestra, conducted by music director Gina Naggar, filled the auditorium of the church with hellish dramatic scenes and heavenly sounds. Although billed as a concert, this production was far more involved than a staged reading, and nothing less than a full-throated demonstration of some serious vocalizing. All nine of the principal cast members gave stellar performances, but special commendation goes to Ben Discipio's overpowering Sweeney, Dirik's wonderful interpretation of Mrs. Lovett, and Matthew Zahnzinger's nasty predator, Judge Turpin. Jordan Reynolds (Anthony Hope) and Audrey Clark (Johanna) were a lovely match, Christopher Porth (Beadle Bamford) sang like an angel, while acting like the devil, and Catherine Lee Christie (Beggar Woman) drew great sympathy.

Adding to the totality of the concept, everyone wore detailed period costumes designed by Anna Silva and Maureen Festa, and Marc Capizzi did some magic with hair and make-up. Props designer Matthew Lazure conjured up a barber chair and some sharp, shiny tools of the trade ("friends") for Sweeney's use, and plenty of pies for Mrs. Lovett's shop. The venue of the massive church instilled an authentic ambience, especially thanks to the gargantuan pipe organ. However, the space was both a blessing and a curse, as the sound system was inadequate and uneven, and the lack of raked seating made seeing the action a challenge, depending on one's vantage point.

After forty years performing in community and professional theater in Boston, Dirik has embarked on this latest venture to collaborate with and tap into the talents of the many individuals she has known and worked with over the decades. With the valued assistance of an 18-member Advisory Board and her wealth of varied experience, Dirik and Theater UnCorked are poised to bring some more bubbles and pizazz to the Boston theater scene. Cheers!

Photo credit: Earl Christie (Ben Discipio, Shana Dirik)

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From This Author Nancy Grossman

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