Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: UCO's SWEENEY TODD Cuts Deep

UCO presents a beautiful and haunting production of the late Stephen Sondheim masterpiece Sweeney Todd

BWW Review: UCO's SWEENEY TODD Cuts Deep

The passing of Stephen Sondheim last fall left the theatre world in mourning. We were already grappling and rebuilding after a pandemic that shut down live performance for two years, and then came the loss of a musical theatre legend. UCO's College of Fine Arts and Design honors Sondheim and his work by presenting his masterpiece, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Directed by department head Greg White, the Musical Theatre students honor the legacy Sondheim left by creating a moving, haunting and emotionally charged production. The musical is double cast in the principal roles and the Saturday cast is reviewed.

When he's released from prison, the once-young Benjamin Barker returns to Fleet Street in London a changed man. He's unrecognizable to those who knew him, and he's out for blood (literally). Set on revenge, he sets his sights on the wicked Judge Turpin who wrongfully imprisoned him. Turpin also stole his daughter and drove his wife to her own demise. With nothing left to lose, he changes his name from Benjamin Barker to Sweeney Todd and opens a barber shop. Everyone in London is excited to visit this new barber in town, and they become even more excited when the pie shop downstairs is suddenly making delicious pies. Mrs. Lovett is the baker, and she sets in motion a plan for Sweeney to get his revenge while boosting business all the while.

Caleb Barnett is the demon barber Sweeney Todd. Barnett is quick on is feet and even quicker with a blade. Barnett is a powerful presence onstage and imposing when he wants to be. Barnett has the emotional range to encompass a broken man who wants revenge and make him seem sympathetic. Sweeney Todd is a scary, chilling character. He's ruthless and full of rage. Barnett portrays all that and more, and makes the audience actually hope the story won't end the way we all know it does. It's been said by this reviewer and everyone who's ever seen him perform, but it must always be repeated. Caleb Barnett is a star.

Gabriella Jimenez is sweet and sassy as Mrs. Lovett. She's got the rolling pin and the pipes to get the job done, and her vocal ability and cockney accent make her unparalleled in this role. When researching to write this review, I found myself watching YouTube clips of other actors performing "The Worst Pies in London". I was left dissatisfied, thinking to myself, "well that wasn't as good as Gabriella." Jimenez is the best Mrs. Lovett you'll ever see. This is no news to those who've seen her perform previously, either.

Together Barnett and Jimenez are all you need for hours of entertainment, and they whisk the audience away to Victorian London and make you want to stay there.

Maddi Hill is striking as the Beggar Woman. She stalks around town, begging and bothering the locals as they go about their business. But she's not to be dismissed. Hill creates an eccentric, ghoulish figure and makes audience members jump as she slinks onto the stage. She's perfectly terrifying in a role that is surely fun and freeing to perform.

Gabriella Beck is beautiful and haunting as Johanna. She's locked in a prison tower thanks to the evil Judge Turpin and just wants her freedom and a chance to sing. Her vocal ability during "Green Finch and Linnet Bird" is nothing short of heavenly. Logan Corley is youthful and hopeful as Anthony. He does all he can to save Johanna, his true love. Logan Vohs is menacing as Judge Turpin. Vohs has a deep voice that rattles the walls and the audience to the core, and he's cold and dark in this rich performance.

Daniel Willsley is hardly forgivable as The Beadle. Judge Turpin's right hand man and by no means innocent, Sweeney has his sights and blade set on him as well. Trent Mosty brings comedic relief as Pirelli, a ridiculous fool of a man who thinks he can best Sweeney at his own game. Avery Ernsberger gives a powerful performance as Tobias, showing a full range of emotions and going down a dark path. Ernsberger provides the cautionary side of this tale that is really about injustice and abuse. Ernsberger reminds the audience that children are always the victims in the wars of men.

The ensemble works hard and tackles the ever-challenging choreography of Hui Cha Poos. The group is in constant motion throughout the show. They're made up of Anna Bahn, Garrett Christensen, Noah Cochran, Kiersten Farris, Hope Horton, Laila Jalil, Chloe Kenyon, Haley Kinnard, Trent Mosty, Alex Mullings, Keegan Rose, Collin Skelton, Maddie Walkley, Logan Wright, and Zachary Wright.

Sweeney Todd is a beautiful reminder of how blessed we are, here in our own Oklahoma City metro area. We can see a masterpiece of Broadway, performed by our own local student artists in our own hometown. These young artists do justice to the beautiful work of Sondheim and they always honor the musical theatre that their department produces. Greg White is truly a gem in OKC theatre. He brings his students up with his praise and reminds them of the important work they're doing. They're not just learning and growing as performers, but they're bringing the magic of theatre back to us at a time when we need it most.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street closes March 6th, 2022. The Spring Season continues with Sister Act in April. For information and tickets, visit cfad.uco.edu.


Join Team BroadwayWorld

Are you an avid theatre goer in Oklahoma? We're looking for people like you to share your thoughts and insights with our readers. Team BroadwayWorld members get access to shows to review, conduct interviews with artists, and the opportunity to meet and network with fellow theatre lovers and arts workers.

Interested? Learn more here.




Related Articles View More Oklahoma Stories


From This Author - Adrienne Proctor