Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: Pioneer Theatre Company's SWEENEY TODD is Sweeping

Review: Pioneer Theatre Company's SWEENEY TODD is Sweeping

Pioneer Theatre Company's sweeping production of SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET is unsettling and yet fulfilling. It is a magnificent achievement with Broadway-level performances, direction and design.

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET (music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler) is based on Christopher Bond's play adaptation of the Victorian tale. The famous musical recounts the revenge of barber Sweeney Todd whose family has been taken from him by the local judge. He concocts a scheme with his partner in crime, Mrs. Lovett, to slit the throats of unsuspecting patrons and turn them into meat pies. But will his retribution provide him the respite he's seeking?

Kevin Earley, who played Defarge in the Broadway production of A TALE OF TWO CITIES, plays Sweeney Todd with rich vocals, a sour scowl, and the weight of the world on his shoulders. He is a man the audience can feel sorry for, despite his dark deeds.

Anne Tolpegin, who was the Mrs. Lovett standby for Carolee Carmello in the recent acclaimed off-Broadway production of the show, is an enthralling Mrs. Lovett. With a sardonic sense of humor and the ability to precisely maneuver Sondheim's complex music and lyrics, she is truly excellent in the role.

Also joining the cast from the off-Broadway production is BYU alum DeLaney Westfall, who reprises her role of Johanna with sweet, off-kilter success. Jonathan Shew is a good match as her earnest suitor, Anthony.

Blake Stadnik as Tobias is mesmerizing from his first comedic number to his touching loyalty to Mrs. Lovett to his final, unraveled moments. His performance is exceptional and haunting.

Accolades are also deserved by Joe Dellger as Judge Turpin, James Donegan as Adolfo Pirelli, Laura Hall as Beggar Woman, Eric Santagata as The Beadle, and the entire ensemble for their memorable solo and chorus work.

Karen Azenburg's direction is theatrical with an epic scope but also narrowed into the humanity of the characters. The musical staging is as gripping as the performances, and it fits George Maxwell's brooding set design perfectly. The large moving gears and metal beams add a dreary spectacle, and Paul Miller's lighting design utilizes nuanced light and shadow with minimal color to further set the scene. The instances of shadow play are a brilliant combination of the direction, set, and lighting that add a masterful creative element. Brenda Van Der Wiel's marvelous costume designs are lush and detailed, and they evolve with the story as it reaches fever pitch at the close of the cautionary tale.

SWEENEY TODD plays through November 10, 2018. For tickets, call the box office at 801-581-6961 or visit www.pioneertheatre.org.

Photo Credit: L-R Kevin Earley (Sweeney Todd) and Anne Tolpegin (Mrs. Lovett)




From This Author - Tyler Hinton

Tyler Hinton has been a contributing editor at BroadwayWorld since January 2012. He has a BA from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor i... (read more about this author)


Review: THE LION KING at the Eccles Theater is a Feast for the SensesReview: THE LION KING at the Eccles Theater is a Feast for the Senses
October 1, 2022

The national tour of THE LION KING at the Eccles Theater is a spectacle like no other--a feast for the senses with eye-popping visuals and immersive music.  It thrills with its groundbreaking application of masks and cultural puppetry techniques, along with its ravishing use of light, shadow, and color. Its drumbeat is the heartbeat of the African savannah.

Review: Hale Centre Theatre's LUCKY STIFF is Groovy FunReview: Hale Centre Theatre's LUCKY STIFF is Groovy Fun
September 18, 2022

LUCKY STIFF on Hale Centre Theatre’s Jewel Box Stage opens with an ode to classic 1970s game shows, and the musical that follows is like a ride back in time via the Game Show Channel.  A captivating competition for a cash prize with lots of twists and turns, it’s just a smidge naughty but ultimately wholesome…and always groovy. 

Tuacahn to Present BEAUTIFUL, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, and More in 2023 SeasonTuacahn to Present BEAUTIFUL, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, and More in 2023 Season
September 17, 2022

This season will feature Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME and Disney’s TARZAN in the Outdoor Amphitheatre along with BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL and Irving Berlin’s WHITE CHRISTMAS in the Hafen Theatre.

Review: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the Eccles Theater is a Masterful ReimaginingReview: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the Eccles Theater is a Masterful Reimagining
September 7, 2022

It is rare for a straight play on Broadway to tour the country and even rarer for one to visit Utah. With its masterful writing and world-class acting, one could not think of a better choice for a transplant from NYC to SLC than the national tour of HARPER LEE’S TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the Eccles Theater.

Review: Hale Centre Theatre's THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN is a Buoyant Regional PremiereReview: Hale Centre Theatre's THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN is a Buoyant Regional Premiere
September 6, 2022

Hale Centre Theatre’s Centre Stage in Sandy is the first place you can see the new revised version of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN post-New York. And it’s a buoyant regional premiere.