Crown and Scepter at Symphony Space: Sweeney Todd

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Bwog wunderkind Marcus Levine caught the premiere of Crown and Scepter’s production of Sweeny Todd.

Though extensive in its size and depth, university theater scenes are fundamentally limited: they primarily appeal to and perform for students. Crown and Scepter Theater Company, founded by Joseph Rozenshtein (CC ’12/SIPA ’13) and Mitchell Feinberg (SEAS ’13), opens these insular groups to the wider community this week with their first production, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, directed by Rozenshtein with musical direction by Feinberg.

Sweeney Todd tells the story of a barber in Victorian London seeking revenge on a pedophiliac judge who sent the barber to prison in Australia in order to steal his wife. Michael Carter (CC ’14) makes his premiere to the Columbia community as a snarling Sweeney, powering through the challenging musical score with a sadistic candor that draws the audience into the demon barber’s deranged worldview.

Andrew Wright (CC ’14) fills the role of Anthony Hope, the bright-eyed young sailor who rescues Todd from his doom on the high seas. Wright smoothly captures the genuine anticipation of a youthful lover with a brilliantly tackled vocal performance and authentic expressions. The object of his love, Johanna, is played by Kyra Bloom (BC ’15) whose elegant innocence captures the essence of her character, while she provides a near-professional vocal performance.

As the first production of a brand new theater group, budget constraints and space requirements play a major role in the shaping the final performance. The set does more than enough to suggest the setting of the piece but often gets in the way of the actors on the small stage, obfuscating the action. The actors do well in working around the small performance space, but slow exeunts break the tension of the piece. Rozenshtein does take advantage of the budget by using many pantomimed actions, which the actors had clearly rehearsed extensively to achieve believability.

Crown and Scepter Theater Company is a group with a mission, and though their production value may not yet live up to their position on the Great White Way, they are clearly a group of talented people with a passion for the art. The cast and crew of Sweeney Todd will perform twice more tomorrow, Friday November 4th at 5:30 pm and 9:00 pm in the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater of the Symphony Space at 95th Street and Broadway.

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  1. Anonymous  

    This sounds like a synopsis, not a review. Sorry.

  2. THIS IS NOT  

    A THEATER REVIEW. Bwog. Please, please, please, learn how to write a theater review. This is merely a synopsis and glorification of a pseudo-theater group. What was the acting like? How was the orchestra? Was the production a good interpretation of Sondheim's masterpiece?

  3. Money back please  

    Not to mention that the show was actually really, really crappy. Between the unprofessionalism and the lack of talent in many of the lead roles, this musical had the audience laughing (literally) during the not-funny parts. The $10 should have gone to a chipotle burrito.

  4. i just want to say  

    i luh you boooooo.

  5. Darryl  

    Hey, I think this guy playing Sweeney Todd is my plumber.

  6. Anonymous

    More like Frown and Scepter.

  7. Is this a joke?  

    Okay first of all- it is absolutely ridiculous that there is no mention of Shelley Farmer, who played Mrs. Lovett. She was the ONLY actor in the show that actually did the role/music justice. She absolutely shone and her acting, comedic timing and voice were FAR superior to the other leads.

    The actor who played Sweeney looked the part, but basically butchered all of his songs and did a very mediocre job with the acting. It should also be noted that Omar El-Okdah was a captivating Judge Turpin with a wonderful voice.

    The biggest thing lacking in this production was the singing. The orchestra sounded great, but the beauty of Sondheim's score didn't really come through. The story was the main thing the cast got across, when it is the brilliant lyrics and haunting score that really makes Sweeney such a legendary musical.

    Still, Mitchell Feinstein and Joseph Rozenshtein deserve to be hugely applauded for making this show happen. It really was an amazing feat.

    • Anonymous

      sure she was a cute, funny, quirky lady with a nice singing voice but she didn't play sociopath/lady macbeth.
      the most concerning portrait of a personality was beggar woman. a secondary characted should not be more complicated than the leads

      • Anonymous

        first of all, there is no right or wrong way to play mrs. lovett -- she doesnt HAVE to be a lady macbeth type. also, you should look up the definition for "sociopath" before you use it, since its a contemporary generalization of antisocial personality disorder (which, according to the behavior given to her in the libretto, lovett does not have) or psychopathy (which depending on the direction, lovett COULD have but the character written as-is in the book [or the script as it is colloquially called] does not. in abnormal psychology, sociopathy is not a recognized nor official mental condition - just a term used by people who do not really understand.

        and second, the beggar woman is a crucial character in the production. i hope you've actually seen sweeney todd and not tim burton's disgusting interpretation of it. her character is and should be complicated - *spoiler alert* if the audience and other cast members knew right away that she was lucy, sweeney would lose a lot of motivation for his revenge and the should would therefore lose its drive. her character is complicated because of her past and her ambiguity, but also for the fact that she knows whats going on the entire time - if you've ever read ANY form of drama (and if youve taken lit hum and paid the SLIGHTEST bit of attention you would have) then you would be REMOTELY familiar with the concept that the character that knows the most is always the one who no one believes or passes off as crazy (i.e. jesters in shakespeare or seers in greek drama). sweeney todd is no wicked, my dear, and therefore, SHOULD have complicated characters - its catered to an intelligent audience - hal prince and hugh wheeler and sondheim would not have been involved in the production if it wasnt.

        also, the beggar woman is not secondary - she is just as important as judge turpin and johanna and toby.

  8. Anonymous

    I saw the performance Monday night at 9. Overall, I had a fun time!
    Orli Matlow really creeped me out as the beggar woman, she was a real stellar performer...Stephan Adamow too! He wasn't mentioned here, and he was HILARIOUS as Pirelli! Love the italian accent! The cast seemed to adapt well to the small stage, the set was impressive, though the asylum door bothered me - too floppy the way the painting was hung. Was well suited for a typical show budget...heard Mitchell actually risked thousands of his job earnings...Anyway, also wished I could have heard Toby (Emily Buttner) in Pirelli's elixir (some sort of microphone malfunction). She sounded great in "Not While I'm around" so it was a shame to not hear her talent in the elixir song. Congrats to all!

  9. Symphony Space

    is not the Great White Way, fools!!

  10. First

    we dislike jacob rice, and now mitchell. Won't the gods bring us something decent in the way of theater production?

  11. Ayo

    Stop hating on Mitchell, he's the biggest boss Columbia has seen thus far

  12. CMTS  

    Sweeney wasn't approved because Mitchell was an absolute disaster as producer during the Wedding Singer last spring. There wasn't a shot in hell CMTS was going to let Mitchell represent them again in Roone. Plus Alex Hare proposed and he's great.

  13. Anonymous  

    the production Alex Hare is directing this semester, Sideshow....

    Except that its not Sideshow anymore, because they started auditions and rehearsals without actually getting the rights to put the show on approved. Now its just a "Fall Review" with a few songs from the show and a bunch of random songs too. There is now only musical- Zombie Prom. And last semester, Wedding Singer was the only musical as well. So clearly CMTS isn't the most functional of clubs, and maybe Mitchell was right for doing Sweeney on his own.

  14. Anonymous

    Apparently, CMTS board members do not, nor could not properly judge the merits of any "good" proposals since they are simply inept at running their own group. There seems to be an underlying jealous nature to their comments, that Mitchell had the balls to put on his own show, procure the rights and fund the project. The pride and support from his cast, crew and friends of Sweeney should be a tribute to his ability to rise above the CMTS quagmire, and create a fun, enjoyable, and stimulating production. Hat's off to Mitch!

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