Congratulations to director Glenn Hering and lead actors Ric Heath, Matt McCann and Kevin Doler, also Caroline Rau Geldernick and numerous others in the cast and orchestra in 4th St. Theater's production of Sweeney Todd:The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd is not very accessible live. The cast is relatively large, the music is difficult and the subject matter is sort of off-beat and depressing to put it mildly. You won’t find high schools clamoring for the rights on one hand, on the other hand, it’s not likely to be revived on Broadway anytime soon, particularly since most of the prospective audience members would have seen the Johnny Depp movie anyway.
Buying tickets for musicals and events have become extremely efficient in the Chicago area and therefore not prohibitively expensive. I saw Les Miserables at Christmastime in 2012 and got very good main floor seats for about $135. (A hot new show in New York you can pay double or triple that for lousy seats.) Still, that’s a lot of money to take a chance on a play, especially a musical, you might not like at all. But in the last ten years or so as professional shows have become more costly, community theater productions have gotten to be very good. The standards at a theater such as 4th Street in Chesterton, the Towle in Hammond, and others I don’t know about are now set pretty high.
I saw Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County at 4th Street about 18 months ago and last Friday I saw Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street there. Both times I was surprised by not only the level of the performances, but to how much seeing a show live adds to the story itself, not just the experience. Though Sweeney Todd is mesmerizing live just to watch the technical approach to all the murder and mayhem, it is also much easier to appreciate the music when performed by a live orchestra. So I guess this is a commercial because Sweeney Todd will be performed eight more times starting tonight in Chesterton. Parking is not difficult because the seating is limited to not many more than 75 people. Tickets are $18, which is amazing when you think about it.