There has probably never been a more perfect rendering of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeny Todd” than the one gracing the Opera Theater of St. Louis’ current season. From every perspective. it is magnificent.
Rod Gilfrey is a bigger brute of a Todd, whose well-inflected intentions of revenge and murder come across as menacing as the acts themselves. He sings the role with an intensity and purpose that manifests the great, very personal pain he feels after his wife’s death and his long, injurious imprisonment.
Tony winner Karen Ziemba as Mrs. Lovett and Kyle Erdos-Knapp as Tobias nearly steal the evening. Ziemba imbues Mrs. Lovett with the proper good nature and deadly abandon of her very expeditious character. Erdos-Knapp’s rendition of “Not While I’m Around” is the most beautifully sung I have ever heard. Additionally, his character’s guidance in the dramatic finale of the show is delicately and perfectly performed.
Scott Ramsay as the Beadle and Timothy Nolen as the depraved Judge Turpin reek evil from the stage.
Deanna Brewick as Todd’s daughter Johanna is both beautiful yet resolute. She sings her difficult role wonderfully, but then again, in this cast, who doesn’t?
The Opera Theater of St. Louis has envisioned and executed a perfect “Sweeney Todd.” Every element of the production demonstrates an understanding and commitment to excellence and idealism very rarely seen in this genre of show. Indeed, attend the tale of Sweeney Todd, and be swept away like never before.