By ERIC SCHELKOPF
Paramount Theatre's spectacular version of "Sweeney Todd" will make you forget all other versions of Stephen Sondheim's famed musical.
For those not familiar with the story, "Sweeney Todd" is a dark comedy revolving around an English barber who murders his customers with a straight razor and, with his accomplice Mrs. Lovett, processes their corpses into meat pies.
Obviously Paramount Theatre artistic director Jim Corti - who directs and choreographs "Sweeney Todd" - knows what it takes to put on a production. Corti staged last season's Jeff winning best musical "West Side Story," and received a 2015 Jeff Award for his direction of "Les Misérables," which also received a Jeff Award for best musical.
Starting with the piercing scream in the production's opening scene, this version of "Sweeney Todd" is full of raw emotion, pulling in the audience in hypnotizing fashion.
Corti has chosen the perfect cast for "Sweeney Todd," starting with Paramount newcomer Paul-Jordan Jansen in the title role. Along with being an incredibly gifted singer, he brings a manic intensity to the role.
Another Paramount newcomer, Bri Sudia, is also perfectly cast as the devilish and sassy Mrs. Lovett. She has the comedic deftness required for the role and it is a joy to see Sudia and Jansen interact with each other on stage.
|Photo by Liz Lauren|
There are plenty of other standout performances in the production, including Matt Deitchman's hilarious take as Adolfo Pirelli, a rival barber to Sweeney Todd. Cecilia Iole, another Paramount newcomer, is enchanting as Johanna, the love interest of the aptly named character Anthony Hope, who remains optimistic despite the circumstances in front of him. Patrick Rooney, who previously could be seen in "Les Misérables," shines in the role.
Stunning scenery is a hallmark of any Paramount production, and that remains the case here, including an inventive depiction of how Todd carries out his murderous acts.
"Sweeney Todd" will run through March 19 at the Paramount Theatre, located at 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora.
Tickets are available by calling the Paramount at 630-896-6666 or visiting its website, www.paramountaurora.com.