Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

UE Dishes Up Delectable Musical Cuisine ; Theater Review

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

UE Dishes Up Delectable Musical Cuisine ; Theater Review

Article excerpt

Some call revenge a dish best served cold, but hot, smoky and saucy works, too, especially if you're making meat pies and musical theater. The University of Evansville serves up both in its production of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's murderous musical, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street."

A quarter century after UE Theatre last presented it, director R. Scott Lank's team of directors, designers and actors has revived the show with a new, minimalist sensibility. They rely on audience imagination to invoke the story's most lurid details and to focus on its bigger, deeper ideas and emotions.

From the original, Tony-winning Broadway production, "Sweeney Todd" traditionally has featured plenty of blood and some showy, complicated mechanics to tell this Victorian tale of cruelty, vengeance, commerce and cannibalism.

The title character has returned to London to take revenge on those who, 15 years earlier, falsely sent him to prison, away from his family, all so a lusting judge could have his way the barber's wife, then steal his daughter.

Mad with revenge and angry at the world, the avenging barber teams with Mrs. Lovett, a widow whose pie shop flounders for lack of meat, to serve both their needs. He opens a second-floor barber shop connected by a floor chute to her kitchen.

This production, staged entirely on the skeletal steel platforms and staircases of Eric Renschler's scenic design, requires the audience to envision the blood and imagine all the mechanical details as the bodies journey from barber chair to meat pie. Except for razors and a rolling pin, nearly all the props - from shaving brushes to meat pies - are invisible, presented in pantomime.

Patti McCrory's stylized costume designs depart from the show's minimal character, reflecting personality, character and class in tightly cut bodices, luxurious robes and frazzled street clothes. …

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