The opening night of NESA’s 2014 version of the gory and dark musical, Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber on Fleet Street, was Thursday, Feb. 27., at 7:30 p.m. The last day to enjoy the show was Sunday, Mar. 2., at 2:30 p.m.
A dress rehearsal photo by Mona Gallegos
Before lifting the curtains, a deep and sinister voice, warned the audience of being decapitated and sentenced to life as a prisoner, should anyone have their phone out for any reason. Once the voice finished speaking, Mark Twehues’ orchestra perfectly performed the Ballad of Sweeney Todd. From there, the curtain rose and the stage, full of eerie shadows and the ensemble staggered out, while a mysterious character (Peter Gertas as Judge Turpin) made his way to the top of one crop and “played” the organs and the play took off.
Because Mr. Sweeney Todd (played by Octavio de la Pena) is all about getting his revenge for being a prisoner for 18 years and for losing his wife to arsenic and his child to Judge Turpin, the lighting is mostly various shades of red, to portray his angry and murderous self, thanks to the Lighting console/Assistant Lighting Designer (Rachel Trinidade).
Trinidade also does an exceptional job at getting the light blue lights right for the lovers Johanna (Aria Braswell) and Anthony (Isaac Palma), when they discover each others existence and when Anthony helps free her from being locked away in a madhouse.
Another character, Mrs. Lovett (played by Lizzie Poncio) had hilarious and well-done make-up on her, for each night, with a missing tooth and extreme cheek bones, thanks to all the Visual Artist parents, whom also provided food for the students. But, not only Poncio’s make-up was done distinguishably, but also Pena’s, the entire ensemble, Gertas, Tobias a.k.a Toby (played by Travis Anderson) and Pirelli (played by Mercedes Johnson).
If there’s one thing that may have immediately captured the audiences’ attention, other than the dark lights and the ensemble (Isaac Navarro, Alexandra Nevarez, Alexa Rivas, Zelda Ziebell, Casey Connor, Caili Crow, Mairin Derk, Micaela Mize, Sara Sargent, Jessica Scott, Tanya Skovorodina, Yleana Wooten, Sean Conroy, Sarah Cosgrove, Tamir Meishar and Derek Miller), it would definitely be Twehues’ orchestra, who all beautifully and accurately played the music. As all musicals, the orchestra is [one of] the group[s] that must always be alert and ready to play, since there were only a few moments when no music was playing. But of course, the actors and actresses must be on check and ready the entire time, even when off stage.
A dress rehearsal photo by Mona Gallegos.
While the orchestra and actors were performing, the audience also noticed the background of the stage – long “walls” with what seemed to be the aftermath of black smoke in the atmosphere. The Visual Artists didn’t have to go to the extreme to help make the play, but they, as always, have their work done nicely, never failing to bring out the theme of the scene(s) and play.
To bring a younger child under the age of 10 might not be a good idea, as the voice in the beginning of the play warned the crowd, but anyone older would be fine. On the second night of the play,the entire cast, orchestra and technical crew gave a show to remember and are beyond amazing, since the fire alarm went off. Twice. This dark and mysterious play was done right by NESA, as usual.