By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
With her hair piled into a mess of peach-fuzzy curls, her face powdered floury white, Allen does look exactly right for the part. And she has quick chemistry with Strawbridge, even if her Mrs. Lovett is more a mother figure to his Sweeney than a potential paramour.
Other highlights: Swarner singing and acting the yearning of the lilting "Johanna"; young Randall Scott Carpenter bringing lovely drama to the score's best number, the ballad "Not While I'm Around"; and Michael B. Moore, playing rival barber Perelli, camping his face off in "The Contest" sequence.
Lowlights: a buzzing amplifier drowning out voices; the three-piece band, led by Adam C. Wright, losing tempo and hitting wrong notes; a lighting design better suited for a department store Christmas window; costumes that needed washing and ironing; an upstage curtain that appears dusty and rat-chewed; prop blood so pink it's anemic.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Continues through September 1 at Level Ground Arts (KD Studio Theatre). Text or call 972-302-1801 for tickets.
No money to pay an all-professional cast? Fine. Use what you've got. And this production features several fine performers doing excellent work in a done-on-a-shoestring staging. That they're surrounded by a less-than-grand supporting cast, and battling quirky tech flaws and design shortcomings — well, that's what keeps Level Ground Arts grounded firmly in community theaterland. Instead of a meaty Sweeney, they're content with serving hash.