reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Last night, Mrs K and I were in attendance (along with many hundreds of others) for a much anticipated theatre event – Actors Theatre of Indiana’s Sweeney ToddThe Demon Barber of Fleet Street – presented at The Palladium in Carmel IN in conjunction with the Carmel Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Arts Chorale. We had previously seen the fine ATI production of the Stephen Sondheim musical in their smaller Studio Theatre venue in 2016. On that occasion the house orchestra consisted of a keyboard, a cello, a violin and percussion. You can imagine the difference in musical power that was conveyed here by the full CSO.

Richard J. Roberts, who had done a remarkable job staging the show on the Studio Theatre stage in 2016, had his hands full staging the show on the Palladium stage. Plenty of inventiveness was in play with some unusual boundaries as the actors shared the immense space with the full orchestra. It affected the story telling a little, what with players meandering around the musicians and even into the choir loft at times.

But this show was about the powerful performances of the uber-talented ATI cast, as well as the musical prowess of the CSO musicians and the Chorale.

Don Farrell (Sweeney Todd) and Judy Fitzgerald (Mrs. Lovett) star in ATI’s “Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Don Farrell leads the proceedings in the title role with a Broadway level performance. His talents are undeniable as he ranges through the Barber’s many levels and emotions, never failing to capture the incessant passion of his vengeful heart. Farrell is matched by ATI co-founder Judy Fitzgerald as she re-creates Mrs. Lovett, the pie-making co-conspirator. Ms. Fitzgerald brings a lot of fun to her role, a much needed balance for the mayhem due to Farrell’s actions.

These two are joined by a very talented group of supporting players, with standout vocal performances by Mario Almonte III as Adolpho Pirelli; Matthew Conwell as Anthony Hope; Elizabeth Hutson, returning as Sweeney’s daughter, Johanna; David Cunningham as Tobias Ragg; Michael Elliott as The Beadle; and Tim Fullerton as Judge Turpin. Cynthia Collins adds a wonderful performance as Beggar Woman into the mix.

Don Farrell (Sweeney Todd) holds Cynthia Collins (Beggar Woman) in a scene from ATI’s “Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Janna Hymes leads the Carmel Symphony Orchestra (and the Indianapolis Arts Chorale) through the immensely complex Sondheim score with flawless precision. Additional creative elements are offered by Erin Meyer’s lighting design, costumes by Katie Cowan Sickmeier, wigs by Andrew Elliott, and the functional set design by Paul Bernard Killian.

Bottomline: if you do not have a ticket for this immense top-grade theatre event, please note that you only have one more chance to see it – tonight February 22nd at 8 pm. A few seats do remain. Don’t let this one get by – you don’t want to miss it and hear later about how great it was.  Call 317-843-3800 for tickets.

For those who wish to read my 2016 review of the show – here it is…

  • – Photos provided by Actors Theatre of Indiana