The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Cody Baldwin

Directed by Peter Moore and Vern Sutton and featuring a cast of fresh-faced, talented actors, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a waking fever dream, where scenes of melodramatic murder and cannibalism are interspersed with songs featuring dancing hotdogs and a burlesque lion tamer. Oh, and it's a lot of fun as well. Playwright C.G. Bond, working with an earlier stage version written by George Dibdin Pitt, briskly sets the stage and gets down to the murdering, as wronged Sweeney Todd slaughters his way to revenge. With the help of neighbor and collaborator Mrs. Lovett, the remains are cooked into meat pies for all of London to enjoy. Meanwhile, young Anthony hopes to free Sweeney's daughter, Johanna, from the clutches of the evil Judge Turpin, who originally set the whole plot into motion. The University of Minnesota students who make up the company do terrific work, building enough character (good, bad, or in the case of Sweeney, both) for us to care and then ramping up the tension and humor with appropriately over-the-top acting. They're led by Billy Mullaney as the barking-mad barber, but there are also good turns from Haley Houck as the young, innocent boy Tobias, who gets dragged into the plot, and Ryan Patrick as rival barber Alfredo. As is traditional, olios are sung between each scene. In this case, Sutton has made inspired choices throughout, with a selection of songs about baking, barking, and life in lower-class London. Special kudos also to Taylar Kuzniar's inspired and often absolutely mad costumes, especially in the olios. $20-$25. Centennial Showboat, Harriet Island, St. Paul; 651.227.1100. Through August 27

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