OCP’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ is dark and delightful
ORANGE — If you have a taste for the macabre, excellent music, and good acting, Orange Community Players have a treat for you. Their delicious offering is “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” with directing by Codie Vasquez and a score by the inventive Stephen Sondheim.
It is the story of a barber, unjustly convicted and transported to Australia in the 19th century by a wicked judge who coveted his wife. Upon his return to England, the barber changes his name to Sweeney Todd, and takes his general and particular revenge by slitting the throats of his hapless clients, who are then turned into meat pies by his industrious landlady, Mrs. Lovett.
Portraying the darkly brooding title character is the veteran OCP actor, Rico Vasquez. His singing is terrific and he brings his character to life, more than carrying the play on his broad shoulders. Rico admirably demonstrates how Sweeney’s thirst for revenge takes him into madness. Bravo to Rico!
Enough cannot be said about the murderous, delightful performance of Amber Martin as Mrs. Lovett. She becomes her character and plays her with wicked, comical zeal. Her acting and singing performances carry the play along and the audience loves her. Her rollicking duet with Sweeney, “A Little Priest,” is a hugely amusing recitation of the attributes given by the flesh of different professions – priest, lawyer, and so on – to the meat pies they contribute to. Her solo, “By the Sea,” with a hint of ironic innocence, attempts to lure Sweeney into marrying her. Kudos to Amber!
The “Scene-Stealer” is Nolan Thornal who plays Adolfo Pirelli, a charlatan rival barber. His beautiful tenor voice is outstanding and his portrayal of the fake Italian is a highlight of the play. Costume, make-up, and acting are spot on by him. Pip! pip! Good show, Nolan!
Also doing his share of wickedness very well is Justin Sanders as the Judge. His amazing voice and stage presence makes him a standout. It is always a pleasure to see Justin perform.
Special mentions need to made of the fresh faced young lovers played well by Megan Voorhies and Tyler Rector. Bryan Buzbee portrays Toby Ragg, the hapless, simple minded assistant to Mrs. Lovett, memorably. Thomas May as The Beadle, Jona Gilchrist as the Beggar Woman, and the whole supporting cast are believable and enjoyable with their stylized attitudes and gutter costumes. Some parts are double cast and it is unfortunate all actors could not be reviewed.
The costumes were made by the cast itself with the help of friends. The set, a great contraption that lends itself to making the mood dark and foreboding, has as its center piece a metal barber’s chair. It is designed so that when those clients getting a really close shave are dead, a lever is pulled that sends the body out of the chair and down a chute, readied for the oven. Very ingenious engineering!
A worthwhile evening of entertainment, the play can be seen at 7:37 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and a matinee is available at 2:37 p.m., Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Call 409-882-9137 for reservations.