'Sweeney Todd' a slicing success

Tyler Stauffer photoTyler Stauffer photo

The Mercyhurst production of “Sweeney Todd,” which premiered in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center (PAC) this past weekend, was a success. The singing was beautiful, the audience was impressed and the performers seemed to enjoy themselves.

A beaming freshman Alianna Whiteaker-Chudecke said, “This was my first musical at Mercyhurst, and it was the most wonderful experience.”

Sophomore Chad Bonifazi played a brooding, frightening Sweeney Todd, especially during the song “Epiphany,” for which he walked through the audience in a special rage.

ResLife staff member Jessica Provenzano gave an equally strong performance as the quirky yet desperate Mrs. Lovett, who aids Mr. Todd in his murderous endeavors. Provenzano’s rendition of “By the Sea” was especially memorable, and Bonifazi and Provenzano together brought the dark humor in “A Little Priest” alive.

Senior Garrett Evans and freshman Alianna Whiteaker-Chudecke, who played the lovers Anthony and Johanna, sang beautifully together, and junior Christopher Nagy was endearing as the boy Tobias. Katie Wagner represented well the grim humor of her character, the beggar woman.

Music department professor Brent Weber played a properly overblown Pirelli, the fake Italian barber, and junior John Veltre effectively portrayed the creepy charm of the Beadle. Aside from just a few falters, the chorus also performed very well, and the singing for the show at large was top-notch.

Tyler Stauffer photoTyler Stauffer photo

The orchestra for “Sweeney Todd,” which was seated on the stage for this concert version of the show, was excellent. The staging also worked well with the platform set design for the concert setup, and the lighting succeeded in setting the dark mood of the show.

One area of disappointment in the performance, however, was the lack of actual props in some scenes. Mime instead of props was used frequently, such as when the harmonium was “played” or when Sweeney applied shaving cream to customers’ faces. Although this miming appears in other concert versions of the show, it was a bit unsatisfying. Similarly, characters who were killed in Sweeney’s barber’s chair sometimes just walked away instead of disappearing or being dragged away. Although this is generally accepted in the concert version, it did seem to take away from some of the magic of the theatre.

The audience appeared very pleased with the show, however, and the performers received a standing ovation. Freshman Giulia Parli said, “The show was really great. The singers, especially the soloists, were excellent.”

Junior Mikal Mausar said, “I really liked it. It was very different and interesting how they placed the orchestra on the stage for the concert version set-up.”