Friday night I attended the Virginia Opera’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street A Musical Thriller. This is the Virginia Opera’s 40th anniversary season and that is somewhat significant to me because I turned 40 this year. The local theme park where I worked as a teen has also turned 40 this year so in many ways I feel as though the whole metropolitan area has been celebrating along with me.
Sweeney Todd and I go way back. In high school I was involved with theater and forensics. As a writer (back then… I’m not sure if I still consider myself one now but that’s another story) I veered toward original oratory so that I could write my own pieces for performance. One of my very talented friends, who now lives and works as an actor in NYC, convinced me to do one of our theater assignments with him. I would have to be a triple threat—act, dance, and sing. Ha ha ha, whatever. I can’t really do any of the three and the only reason I was in drama was because my friends were and I have the ability to easily memorize lines… and I do wacky voices and do not get embarrassed easily which is the real reason he wanted me to be Mrs. Lovett. So I did and it was fun.
|Carpenter Theater- National Trust of Historic Preservation|
The Virginia Opera’s music was beautiful but I was more attracted to the production set which was gorgeous. It’s hard not to think that all of the characters looked a bit goth. With dark makeup around their eyes, the Londoners were dressed in black throughout the show. I have to admit that I was taking a bit of fashion advice from the cast. Even when the characters were in all white, they still wore the thick dark makeup, and, of course, their whites were bloodied in connection with the scene.
With this being the 40th anniversary season, the Virginia Opera wants to showcase their strengths and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street although considered a Broadway musical has been performed by over a half dozen other opera companies in the US. It was a fun night and with it being performed in Richmond’s Carpenter Theater, a historic Richmond theater influenced by Spanish baroque and Moorish Revival styles where the theater walls evoke an elegant villa and the ceiling suggests a sky full of stars and moving clouds. I have never been able to take a picture of the inside of the theater that does it any justice.Below, Jaffee Holden's photo is quite stunning.