Review: Pioneer’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ a killer production

Anne Tolpegin and Kevin Earley star as Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd. Photo:

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 31, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Pioneer Theatre’s “Sweeney Todd” is a darkly delicious, larger-than-life production of Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece.

Just walk into the theater and you will know there’s something special ahead. George Maxwell’s set has an off-kilter look, all rusty industrial girders, frames and cogs, ready to grind up anyone who gets careless — which is not far from the truth.

That set is illuminated by light and shadow, fog and mist. Nothing is exactly what it seems. You have been warned.

Onto that stage walk characters with dark secrets. Sweeney Todd (actor Kevin Earley) seems barely capable of normal human interactions due to the ice and rage in his soul. Revenge is his only goal, and he finds the means when a Mrs. Lovett, self-proclaimed maker of the worst meat pies in London, remembers him and returns his old barbering tools.

Lovett (Anne Tolpegin) is a desperate business woman, more than willing to bake vermin or worse into meat pies to earn a living. Suddenly, she has an idea of where she can get a near-endless supply of meat while making evidence of Todd’s vengeful endeavor disappear with the lunch crowd.

Both Earley and Tolpegin, deftly directed by Karen Azenberg, are chillingly convincing in their roles. Other cast standouts include Delaney Westfall as Joanna, Blake Stadnik as Tobias, and Laura Hall as a particularly persistent beggar.

The production features strong acting and layer upon layer of rich storytelling.

Appointments with “the demon barber of Fleet Street” continue through Nov. 10. For ticket information, click here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here