Having made his reputation and won accolades for stinging relationship comedies such as Company, Follies, and A Little Night Music, Stephen Sondheim started blowing up expectations about what a Sondheim musical was. First, he wrote the underappreciated Pacific Overtures, set in feudal Japan on the edge of modernization. After that ambitious and logistically difficult show failed, he made an opera out of an urban slasher legend in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which comes to Circle Theatre this week.
If you’ve seen it before onstage or in the movie theater, Circle’s production takes its cue from the less traditional one that swept Broadway a few years ago, with a pared-down cast and actors playing musical instruments onstage to accompany the songs. Ian Ferguson serves as both musical director and the actor portraying Anthony, the sailor who brings Todd to London. The same actress (Mary Gilbreath Grim) plays not only the homeless woman frequenting Fleet Street but also the perfidious Italian rival barber Adolfo Pirelli. In addition, the quick-moving number “Kiss Me” is always fun to stage, and “Parlor Songs” is Sondheim’s parody of Victorian ballads, with their syrupy sentiments and nonsensical refrains. It will all make you see this old show in a new light.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street runs Jun 6-Jul 13 at Circle Theatre, 230 W 4th St, FW. Tickets are $20-43. Call 817-877-4030.