Broadway Has Nothing Over NTC’s Smash Hit, SWEENEY TODD
Once seated, the audience at the November 3rd, 2019, performance could sense the dark mood of this musical if only by the darkness of the London Fleet Street set by Scenic Designer Chris McGregor and Lead Scenic Artist Kristy Arroyo. Then, we were further drawn into the 19th Century by the clip-clop of horse hooves, the squealing brakes of a streetcar, and church bells in the heart of Fleet Street, with a ship horn from the nearby harbor (all by Sound Logic, Inc.).
Novato Theater Company has, once again, brought us a riveting production with this musical thriller. Co-Directors Kim Bromley and Bruce Vieira have made a “macabre” script greatly entertaining. The stellar cast took entertainment to a new level, combining the hideous and disgusting with the sweetness of love and the hilarity of the absurd – all with the genius of Stephen Sondheim’s music as masterfully directed by Judy Wiesen with brilliant movement choreography directed by Marilyn Izdebski (who doubles as Associate Lighting Designer with Frank Sarubbi and Jere Torkelsen, as well as being one of the Production Managers, along with Candace Brown and Janelle Ponte). The set was amazing as constructed by Michael Walraven, Chris Mc/Gregor, “Electric Bill” Weinberg, Stan Epstein, Will Lamers, and John Griffin. Costuming by Adriana Gutierrez was marvelous, and makeup, hair and wig design by Hope Carillo were flawless. The Specialty Makeup by Designer Eric Batz was remarkable!
Kudos to the fabulous cast with Co-Director Bruce Vieira in the leading role as Sweeney Todd (his multiple talents shining through). There was no weak link in his support, from Alison Peltz (marvelous as the wisely “insane” partner in crime) Mrs. Lovett to Cordell Wesselink (with excellent vocals and persuasive as devoted Anthony Hope – love interest of beautiful song-bird ingénue Johanna, daughter of Sweeney Todd); Julianne Bretan; Jane Harrington’s vivid character portrayal as the Beggar Woman, Fernando Siu – unforgettable as Tobias Ragg, miracle elixir salesman and especially in his duet of “Not While I’m Around” with Mrs. Lovett (Alison Peltz); Charles Evans strong as Judge Turpin; Mauricio Suarez as Beadle Bamford; Dominic Quin-Harkin as Adolfo Pirelli Elixir Maker; and John Griffin doubled well as Jonas Fogg and was in the Ensemble – plus, he was on the Set Construction Crew.
The Ensemble and Musicians were obviously indispensable to this musical – they brought depth and texture with their outstanding musicianship. The Ensemble was comprised of Margot Biehle, Amy Dietz, Sleiman Elahmadieh, Kelé Gasparini, Aliya Greenberg, John Griffin, Ashley Kimball, Todd Krish, Will Lamers, Carl Robinett, and Shelley Skelton.
Musicians for this performance included Judy Wiesen (Keyboard 1), Jeffrey Paul (Keyboard 2), Dean Cook (Percussion), Jeff Sherman (Bass), LaNaudia Lindoerfer (Violin), Grant Leimbach (Woodwinds), and Logan Barr (Flute).
By Elle Alexa Simon
with Flora Lynn Isaacson, San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle
SWEENEY TODD opened October 24th and is scheduled to run through November 17th, 2019, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm (with an extra performance on Thursday, November 14, at 7:30 pm), and Sunday Matinees at 2:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased through the box office at 415-883-4498 or online at novatotheatercompany.org. The address of Novato Theater Company is 5420 Nave Dr., Novato 94949.
COMING UP NEXT AT NTC: OUR TOWN, by Thornton Wilder and Directed by Michael Barr with performances from January 23 through February 16, 2020.