Tuesdays with Corti: A Sondheim Valentine

It’s Valentine’s Day! I have got so much love and thanks to spread around today after Saturday night’s Press Opening for Paramount’s Sweeney Todd! The reviews started rolling in yesterday and are unanimously praising the many merits of our production! READ THEM HERE

Opening night’s thrills and chills had our audience firing up the show, withholding nothing as they cheered, laughed and gasped! From the very top, as the curtain rose, there was an electricity in the air as “the whistle” screaming in a blackout revealed a solo face lit from below. Right at the onset, Nick Belley’s and Jesse Klug’s lighting design, working in sync with Adam Rosenthal’s sound design, transforms the dark abyss in a spectacular instant. Setting the three stories of Jeff Kmiec’s towering set ablaze in reds of blood and fire, the cast roars on balconies and stairways: “Swing your razor wide, Sweeney!” Unforgettable! An uproar of cheers aghast for this opening scene!

Conductor/Music Director Tom Vendafreddo pulls out all the stops with the searing, soaring sensation of our orchestra fueling the moment. (All night long, the maestro and his 19 musicians strong create an expression of Sondheim rarely ever experienced in live performance, a beauty nuanced not to be believed until it is heard!) And then comes the entrance of Sweeney himself, Paul-Jordan Jansen, and suddenly the whole place goes up again in cheering screams! Thrilling! Meanwhile this all seems to be a warm-up for our Mrs. Lovett, Bri Sudia, winning the crowd on her own terms with the “Worst Pies in London!” Our leads, Ms. Sudia and Mr. Jansen, with their vocal prowess and onstage chemistry take no prisoners and make a knock-out tag team time after time bringing a hush over the crowd only to have them burst into applause. Anthony Norman (Toby), Patrick Rooney (Anthony) and Cecilia Iole (Johanna) enchant, all the while Larry Adams (Judge Turpin), Craig Underwood (Beadle Bramford) and Matt Deitchman (Adolpho Pirelli) all score wildly with the audience as well. Lucy Barker aka The Beggar Woman is for me, revelatory, in Emily Rohm’s stunningly sung portrayal. Our Ensemble is gorgeously gowned and suited by Theresa Ham, with hair, wigs and make-up by Katie Cordts. And there is no way to thank this brilliant design team enough with Properties Manager, the perfect Amanda Relaford, and dedicated Stage Managers, the wonderful Jinni Pike and Nora Mally! Kudos to Special Effects Designer Patrick Ham and Fight Choreographer Ryan Bourque for the blood and violence! And I must bow to our ladies and gentlemen of the Ensemble, singers and actors of a caliber I honestly do not think you are ever likely to see “commune” as they do in this production. And folks, I am nothing without Associate Director Trent Stork who has a place in my heart full of love for every single one of these artists, dear reader; this is a valentine to them! And a very special valentine indeed to Mr. Stephen Sondheim, who wrote his way into my heart and the hearts of so many, so long ago, once upon a time.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

Love & thanks,

Jim

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