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Theatre Review (LA): Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Sondheim at the Morgan-Wixen

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Sweeney Todd first appeared in a so-called “penny dreadful” The String of Pearls: A Romance. Since then the story has been the basis for several plays, a couple of movies, and most recently, a musical and then a movie.

People can’t seem to get enough of this monstrous barber who slits throats and sends the bodies to Mrs. Lovett to make into meat pies. Whether or not Sweeney was a real person is highly disputed but even Dickens mentions meat pies that may have been made from dead cats.

In any case Sweeney Todd has entered into our unending fascination with mass murders, and the fact that there are meat pies involved only makes it, pardon the pun, juicier.

Stephen Sondheim, a lover of twisted tales and puzzles, wrote a musical based on a play by Christopher Bond. The show won eight Tony Awards and has had productions all over the world.

The Morgan- Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica is presenting their version  in a spirited spooky production directed by Valerie Rachelle.

The cast is, for the most part quite good, with standout performances by John McCool as Sweeney and AnnaLisa Erickson as Mrs. Lovett.

They get terrific support from Michael Heimos as the nasty Judge Turpin, Tom McMahon as Beadle Bamford, Lucas Moore as Jonas Fogg, Branford Stanford as the hilarious Pirelli, Joanna Churgin as the Beggar Woman, Natasha Harris as Johanna, and a beautifully voiced Vincent Perez as Anthony Hope.

The cast is to be congratulated for singing to the recorded music without missing a beat.

Sweeney Todd will play at the Morgan-Wixen Theatre until April 7.

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