BWW Review: SWEENEY TODD at FMCT
Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre Presents Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
FMCT has always put on wonderful show but over the past few years something has changed. They have really stepped it up and whenever I get the chance to attend one of their productions I get very excited.
Sweeney Todd was no exception as Adam Pankow put together an amazing cast, crew and orchestra to bring this show to life. There are not many horror theatre productions and even fewer musicals. Sweeney Todd is definitely one of the better known shows that made its Broadway debut in 1979. The musical was based on a 1973 play. There was also a 2007 movie adaptation starring Johnny Depp.
Without giving too much away for those unfamiliar Sweeney Todd tells the story of a man who was wrongly imprisoned 15 years earlier and this cost his his wife and daughter. He comes back to London exact his revenge.
Now with the exception of one or two minor mic issues the performance I attended ran flawlessly from start to finish. Everyone on stage, and backstage, did a wonderful job to bring this story to life.
Before I go further I need to be sure to recognize the vocal director Karen Hamilton. The vocal director often goes unnoticed, but they are one of the most important parts of the show. Huge congrats to Karen and the amazing job she did working with the cast.
I do have to admit when I saw the cast list I was beyond excited to see some familiar names and I was pretty sure I knew who the standouts would be. The performers I suspected all stepped up but the one standout I was not expecting was Shelby Cochran as Mrs. Lovett. I saw Shelby in the FMCT production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels last year and she was hilarious. In Sweeney Todd she absolutely stole the show in every scene. Her vocals were absolutely perfect on almost every song. Some of her true shining moments were on "The Worst Pies in London" and "By the Sea". She played her character so well and her interactions with Sweeney Todd (Clayton Perala) and Tobias (Tyler Folkedahl) were so good.
Clayton Perala as Sweeney Todd was frighteningly good. If you have read any previous reviews of mine you know that Clayton has become one of my favorite locals. He has such talent and it's always great to see him perform. You may remember him from his award winning performance as Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins or as The Old Man in A Christmas Story. Clayton has amazing stage presence and his vocals were spot on in every song. His singing on "Epiphany" was one of the best of the show and he was also great on "The Barber and His Wife" just to name a few. I loved the scene in Act 2 on "Johanna" where we got to see Sweeney Todd use his new special barber chair.
Dillon Spurlin as Anthony is coming off of his stellar performance as Jesus in the FMCT summer production of Jesus Christ Superstar. We were treated to his amazing vocals on "Johanna" and a beautiful duet on "Kiss Me" with Johanna (Samantha Davis).
Samantha Davis as Johanna has a stunning voice. Some of her high notes gave me chills and she was so good on "Kiss Me" and "Green Finch and Linnet Bird". Her scenes with Anthony (Dillon Spurlin) are all very good.
Tyler Folkedahl as Tobias Ragg was a fun character. We first meet him during the "Pirelli's Miracle Elixir" scene and he immediately takes center stage. In Act 2 he does a great job on "Not While I'm Around".
Rachel Rebischke as Beggar Woman was one of my favorite characters. Her stage presence, comedic timing and vocals were all spot on. She was recently in Mamma Mia as Lisa.
I need to be sure to mention the other named cast members as they all did a great job. Lee Klocke as Judge Turpin. Dave Wilhemi as The Beadle, Annabelle Peck as Adolpho Pirelli and Michael Spiese as Jonas Fogg.
I really enjoyed the Prologue and the Epilogue as these featured many members of the ensemble on featured versus.
Also another shout out to the Orchestra led by director Brian Cole!
Also a mention to the scenic designer Jeff Brown for bringing old London to the stage and of course the costume designer Shelly Hurt-Geist for an amazing job getting the cast to look their parts.
Overall the whole cast, crew and orchestra should be extremely proud. This is yet another amazing production for FMCT.
**Photo Credits to Perry Rust
For more details check out my podcast review of Sweeney Todd