Theo Ubique presents SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET Review – Singing and Dancing on a Razor’s Edge!

Theo Ubique SWEENEY TODD
Jacquelyne Jones and Philip Torre Cody Jolly Photography

Theo Ubique presents SWEENEY TODD Right in Mrs. Lovett’s Pie Shop

Stephen Sondheim’s dark musical comedy rose again for Chicago audiences to enjoy. This time without a curtain. Directed by Fred Anzevino and Courtney Crouse, the No Exit Café was transformed into the seedy-establishment-turned-morosely-successful-eatery of Mrs. Lovett, played by the powerful Jacquelyne Jones. Audience members were treated to table and bar service by the characters before the performance began, with seating throughout the stage…or no, better yet, the stage was set throughout the entire room.

The café was dark, lightened a bit by an ever-present reddish glow and “smoke,” with a splash of blood every now and then!

Table candles provided an air of eerie voyeurism as the characters planted themselves throughout the 55-seat theatre/café/meat pie shop. Philip Torre reigned supreme as the ever-tortured and single-focused demon barber, in his return from exile to his sometimes utilitarian, sometimes impassioned dispatching of his own brand of justice and retribution with an amazing bass strength.

Theo Ubique SWEENEY TODD
Philip Torre Cody Jolly Photography
Theo Ubique SWEENEY TODD
Cecilia Iole and Nathan Carroll Cody Jolly Photography

SWEENEY TODD Shows the Power of the Human Voice, Unplugged!

Once again, a small local company in Chicago mounts the rostrum of great theatre! Theo Ubique, in its final book musical performances to be held at the No Exit Café, has set itself a high standard and succeeded. The quality of singing (very little electronic amplification) and acting in the troupe was consistent throughout the performance. The dual villainy of the beadle and the judge, played by Kevin Webb and John Leen respectively, bookended the source of Todd’s tragedy, along with the innocent Johanna (Cecilia Iole), his daughter, and Anthony, her love (Nathan Carroll). These four actors helped spin the tension tightly and created a suffocatingly appropriate mood throughout the play.

Megan Elk as the Beggar Lady, provided the warnings with heart-breaking pathos, seer-like, and a glimpse into the deeper tragedy of the story. The character of Pirelli, played strongly by Ryan Armstrong performed the sinister “Italian” that would make Vito Scotti proud. Frankie Leo Bennett let loose his talent in the role of the ubiquitous Toby, street urchin turned loving child turned hapless accomplice turned broken savior.

Theo Ubique SWEENEY TODD
Kevin Webb and John B. Leen Cody Jolly Photography
Theo Ubique SWEENEY TODD
Frankie Leo Bennett Cody Jolly Photography

The ensemble, comprised of Grant Brown, Missy Wise, Trevor Vanderzee, and Hope Elizabeth Schafer, added to the complete “surround sound” of high-quality vocal talent and stage presence. With choreography and musical direction by James Beaudry and Jeremy Ramey, respectively, this presentation of SWEENEY TODD will appeal to audiences who appreciate powerful human talent over so much flash and glitter. Props to those who worked on the scenes, lighting and props!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

This play is now added to the Picture This Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO where it will remain until the end of the run.

Read reviews of other performances of SWEENEY TODD:

Broadway in New York SWEENEY TODD Review – intimate and environmental take on a macabre, but classic musical

Paramount Theatre presents SWEENEY TODD – Bloodthirsty Musical

 

Where

No Exit Café
6970 N. Glenwood Ave.
1-800-595-4849

When

Thru April 29th
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30 pm
Sundays at 7:00 pm

Tickets

Thursdays and Sundays, $39
Fridays and Saturdays, $44
Student and Senior $5.00 discounts on regular run prices
Dinner (optional) is $25 Reservations required

Visit the Theo Ubique Theater website. 

Joseph Anthony Rulli
Nathanael Filbert

Joseph Anthony Rulli is a transplanted Hoosier, living in Chicago since the fall of 2006. A 1987 graduate of the University of Notre Dame (BA, History) and a 1992 graduate of St. Meinrad School of Theology (MDiv) he taught Social Studies, Religion, Philosophy and History at the high school level. He began writing as a career upon his arrival to his second city and has had two short stories published, a stage play performed, an electronic tour book published online and The Chicago Haymarket Affair (History Press/Arcadia Publishing, 2016) his first print book.

READ MORE PICTURE THIS POST ARTICLES BY JOSEPH ANTHONY RULLI HERE.

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