BWW Feature: SWEENEY TODD, a Utah Rep and Noorda Center Co-Production, Wildly Heralded
Utah Repertory Theater Company's co-production of SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET was a startlingly beautiful production, and reviewers and audiences responded with enthusiasm.
"It shows wisdom that Utah Rep has pulled out all the stops for this Tim Threlfall-directed production of Sweeney Todd," wrote the Utah Theatre Bloggers reviewer. According UVU Review: "The blood-chilling production of Sweeney Todd is sure to thrill and delight. Haunting and heartbreaking, the show will leave you as breathless as Mr. Todd's victims."
Theatergoers were prompted to share their enjoyment of the staging on Facebook:
a-? "This production was perfection!"- Jim Dale a-? "It's an amazing production (one of THE BEST shows I've seen in Utah EVER!)."- Katie Higbee a-? "It was soooo good! Broadway-caliber show, right here in town."- Daria Hart Boden a-? "Possibly the best show I've seen in my life (and yes, I've seen 'Wicked.' And 'Hamilton')!"- Kimber Worwood Dutton a-? "I can't praise this show enough! I adored it from head to toe and from ear to ear!"- Marshall R. Madsen a-? "It was incredible!"-Hailey Margetts a-? "Blown away by the talented cast!"- Debbie Warren Wawro
The unique collaboration between Utah Valley University's Noorda Center and Utah Rep headed by Producer Johnny Hebda was able to cast Jeff McCarthy -- a true Broadway leading man with credits in the original productions of "Urinetown" as Officer Lockstock, "Side Show" as Terry and "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" as the Grinch -- to play the titular role.
BroadwayWorld wrote: "Jeff McCarthy's performance is haunting in its preciseness of anger. I could see trauma in his movement and face, and hear it in his vocals."
"This company is a bunch of major sweet hearts and I so appreciated everyone's patience and love and support" was McCarthy's Facebook post.
Opposite McCarthy as Mrs. Lovett was a second Equity actor, Jacquelyne Jones, a former UVU student who won a regional Jeff Award for her performance as the pie maker in a Chicago production of SWEENEY TODD.
"Jacquelyne Jones exudes commitment and preparation, showering the audience with an ebullient, rapid-fire succession of interesting and unpredictable choices. Vocally sophisticated and meticulously conceived, her Mrs. Lovett is a whirlwind," according to Utah Theatre Bloggers.
"We closed Sweeney last night, and I'm a wee bit emotional," Jones wrote on Facebook. "I was only here in Utah just over a month, but, oh man, if these people didn't fully cement themselves into my heart. Being away from home was hard but these souls showered me with so much love and support that I felt like I found a temporary home. Getting to be back in this Utah theater community made me incredibly sentimental and allowed to me to realize just how much I miss it. I hope this isn't the last time our paths cross, friends; I have a feeling it's not!"
Praise for other cast members included:
"As Anthony Hope is the honey-voiced Jadon Webster and as Johanna Ellora Lattin, who sings and looks like an angel. They each do a lovely job; perfectly in tune vocally and mesmerizing"-Front Row. "Sweet Davis Underwood has a crystal-clear voice and perfect mannerisms for the Tobias Ragg role. His twist at the end was probably one of the most haunting I have ever seen"-BroadwayWorld. "An easy, slow-boiling malice emanates from Brian Neal Clark's Judge Turpin and Kenneth Wayne's Beadle, who are both more frightening than anything coming from Mrs. Lovett's bake house"-Utah Theatre Bloggers.
In a BroadwayWorld Q&A interview, McCarthy had these responses:
This is the first Utah Rep co-production with UVU. How was your experience like?
Lots of great, patient, supportive people. And I was really happy to see how rich this production became, visually. I hear that UVU/UtahRep is looking to eventually become an Equity/LORT company. Being a union member, I sure hope that comes to be.
Working with this cast/production team, did you learn something new about the character?
My favorite thing about this telling of SWEENEY TODD is Director Tim Threlfall's choice to have Sweeney offer himself up to die at the very end. I don't want this to sound like I am an advocate for capital punishment, but I find it a cleansing sacrifice of his after all the hideous killing that he committed himself to.