When “Sweeney Todd” premiered on Broadway, Jimmy Carter was in the White House. So why the long delay in reaching Sacramento? The answer lies in the cheerful attitude that dominated the Music Circus for years, and the fact that “Sweeney Todd” is Gothic tale of madness and relentless revenge.
Well, better late than never, because this production is excellent. The show takes us to the sooty, dangerous London of the 1800s. Mr. Todd has just returned from exile, after being framed on bogus charges. He recovers his favorite straight-edged razor. And as dour actor Mark Jacoby holds the gleaming blade aloft, we get a fateful warning.
Several throats get slit, making for a disturbing tale. But the telling is highly ironic, with verbal, visual and musical puns. The cast tickles your funnybone, while chilling your spine.
This weird masterpiece of a musical is cleverly staged in the round, with the ghastly barber’s chair located in an aisle, placing many members of the audience very close indeed to the, ahem, action.