“Sweeney” delivers more than meat-pies

Mischa Lopiano, Photo Editor

SRJC’s Theatre Arts Department took on morbid musical, Sweeney Todd and delivered a show that would make Stephen Sondheim proud. The vocals were sung beautifully, especially by Mrs. Lovett, played by Rosie Frater.

The musical is centered on the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, but Rosie Frater stole the show. Frater delivered a quirky yet dark performance as Mrs. Lovett, especially when paired with Ian Elliot who played Sweeney Todd, a demon possessed man with a tormented past. The two worked beautifully together. With Frater’s deep, rich vocals and Elliot’s booming low notes, the pair created a darkly humorous performance. However, the show was not all meat-pies and gin.

The supporting actors in the play, while excellent singers, were a tad boring. It was hard to tell whether the characters were uninteresting as they were written or if it was the performers. One exception was the character Adolfo Pirelli, played by Rodrigo Castillo. His accent was just cheesy enough to be convincing, but it was no surprise when he later dropped it.

At times when the ensemble was singing, some of the voices became overpowering and would stand out…unpleasantly. There was also a high-pitched, ear-shattering note that at the most dramatic moments sounded like an owl before it kills a mouse. It broke the mood of drama and suspense resulting in cringing headaches.

The set design was intricate and aptly set the mood of Industrial London. The lighting created a dismal and dreary atmosphere with fog passing through. As a whole, the lighting was very impressive. The upside-down buildings in the background thrust the audience into a time when morals and ethics were also backwards. The set itself was clever and intricate but not overly complicated. A clever trap door underneath a barber chair highlighted the creativity of the Theatre Art Department’s set designers. There was puzzling set décor on the sides of the stage, but then again it’s Fleet Street, so Luke Skywalker’s bionic hand and a creepy steam punk boy are nothing to question.

The makeup was excessive to say the least. Judge Tupin’s character (played by Nick Herman) had so much on that it could be seen from the back of the room and there was enough on stage to cover every pimple of every pubescent kid at Santa Rosa High. The only exception was Sweeney Todd, whose makeup gave him the look of a worldly nomad scarred by the horrors of life.

The costumes were well made and exuded the time and energy that was put into them. Frater and Herman’s characters (Mrs. Lovett and Judge Tupin), swapped their costumes often, which gave the impression that time had passed within the play.

There are two lead actors for each of the main parts who alternate performances to give vocal chords time to rest after this very demanding show. The pairs are shuffled with Jonah Kaufman and Sarah Passemar playing the leads on alternate nights, which could deliver a very different show. Sweeney Todd runs until May 5 and has matinee as well as evening shows. Tickets cost $12 for students with a valid ID and can be purchased online, by phone (707-527-434) or by visiting the Box Office at Burbank Auditorium.