Tobias Ragg (Jonas Aboagye) captivates the townspeople of Fleet Street with one of Mrs.
Lovett’s delectable pies.
Review by Catherine Foster, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team
Murder, comedy, and romance all baked in a pie: Campbell County High School's production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was bone-chilling and hilarious.
The version of Sweeney Todd performed by Campbell County was the melodramatic play written by C.G. Bond. In this version, Todd returns to 19th century London after being wrongfully deported to find that his wife had killed herself after being abused by Judge Turpin, who had deported him, and his daughter is in the care of the judge. Todd hatches a plan to avenge his wife and free his daughter by reopening his old barber shop and murdering the judge and his helper, a Beadle. The owner of a struggling shop that sells meat pies downstairs, Mrs. Lovett, is all too happy to help him dispose of the bodies.
Chas Harmon skillfully navigated the complex character of Sweeney Todd through physicality and tone. His performance showed true depth of character, painting Todd not as simply a maniac killer, but as a grieving and broken man. Sarai Aboagye's portrayal of Mrs. Lovett was vivacious and hilarious. Her overexaggerated fawning over the reluctant Sweeney Todd was very funny, and the two of them had a great dynamic throughout the show, her bright smile and flirtatious gestures the perfect foil to his grim persona.
Jonas Aboagye was excellent as barber's assistant turned pie shop helper Tobias Ragg. His speeches to drum up business for the barber were hilarious, and he did a great job interacting with the Victorian Townspeople ensemble, drawing them into his spiel with eye contact and dramatic gestures. Natalie Hicks' portrayal of madman J. Fogg was compelling and believable. Her characterization of her monologue about madness was a deep and chilling commentary on human nature as she paced about and interspersed the rant with demented laughter.
Tech elements of this show added suspense and helped make it clear what was happening in the plot. The clever turntable set worked on by Jami Hiller, Adelaide Sheets, Caitlynn Smith, and crew allowed the many different settings of the show to be clearly distinguished from one another, from Mrs. Lovett's adorable pie shop to Todd's classic barber shop to a dark, scary insane asylum. Lighting by Catherine Deaton, Adelaide Sheet, and Balma Yarza Ferrer; and sound by Naila Browder, Grace Field, and Alora Wethington added suspense and clarity to the show. A red lighting effect and a screeching sound during each killing scene created an appropriately scary mood and conveyed that murder was happening in a way that read clearly throughout the large theater. Gracie Bridewell and the costume crew created beautiful Victorian Era costumes that helped establish the time and place of the show.
Overall, Campbell County's production of Sweeny Todd was a great show. Skilled, energetic actors and inventive, engaging tech elements made this show a success. Not only was Campbell County's performance entertaining, but it also evoked some meaningful questions about human nature and about the blurred line between hero and villain, innocent and guilty.
Sweeny Todd (Chas Harmon) looks on in Campbell County High School’s recent production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Review by Grace Hoffmann, Roger Bacon High School Critic Team
Revenge calls for only one thing on Fleet Street... Pie! Campbell County High School's production of Sweeney Todd whisked audiences to Fleet Street with a story of love, revenge, and of course, murder on the menu.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a classic melodrama by C.G. Bond. Set in 1845 London, the melodrama follows Sweeney Todd, a barber who returns to Fleet Street to avenge the wrongs that were done to his family after he was deported on a false charge, leaving them behind. Using his barber shop as a cover, Todd works with Mrs. Lovett to provide her with filling for her pies and avenge his family.
Campbell County's production made beautiful use of a turntable as their major set piece, which not only moved audiences seamlessly from one scene to another but moved them through time, allowing all the scenes to be seen from all parts of the theater. The actors used the space to heighten their emotional attachment to their characters, creating an breathtaking and unique take on the story, setting it apart from the rest.
Lead actor Chas Harmon as Sweeney Todd did an excellent job of playing the violence of his character, while not losing sight of the emotional-driven character he was portraying. Harmon showed the maturity he had through his delivery of Todd's inner monologue throughout the show, showing the character development of Todd and that the true intention of his crimes was never forgotten, especially evident when he held his lost wife close after her untimely death at his hands.
Todd's partner in crime, Mrs. Lovett was portrayed beautifully by Sarai Aboagye whose energy kept the story flowing. Aboagye was often the comedian with her clever comebacks, which was played up with Aboagye's volume and delivery. Throughout, Aboagye maintained an accent and vocabulary of her character's class that she never broke once, showing her discipline and comfort on stage. Even with the violence written into the story, many characters made sure the audience was laughing, including Jonas Aboagye as Mrs. Lovett's assistant and Mack Hodge as Anthony climbing through a window to see his love.
Sweeney Todd had many moving parts, which Adelaide Sheets and the set crew designed and constructed beautifully, from a moving turntable to a trap door. Keeping the melodrama history in mind, Arabella Bertucci, Olivia Huff, and Bailey Klei blocked many of the scenes to tell the story with movement and intention as the assistant directors. Rounding out the impressive crew, the costume crew (Gracie Bridewell and crew) made sure to design historically accurate costumes that depicted social status, complementing the acting and sets.
From impressive sets to strong acting, Campbell County showcased their versatility and hard work. Overall, Campbell County put on a killer show with love, revenge, and of course…Pie!
Jonas Fogg (Natalie Hicks), owner of Newgate prison, examines Johanna Barker’s (Aubrie Klei)hair in a dramatic scene during CCHS’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Review by Kayla Kilgore, Roger Bacon High School
Going to a barber shop never felt so scary! Campbell County's spine-chilling version of Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street truly brought the story to life with heart-wrenching scenes and a deep message that you could bring home with you.
This adaptation of the 1973 play, follows Sweeney Todd after he is unlawfully sent to jail, and his wife and daughter have been taken away by the menacing Judge Turpin. He and an eccentric baker, Mrs. Lovett, devise a secret revenge plot of killing patrons in Todd's upstairs barber shop, to then send down to be the filling of Mrs. Lovett's, now famously delicious, pies.
Sarai Aboagye commanded stage presence with her role as Mrs. Lovett. Her impressive Cockney accent was never dropped, and she displayed her deep affection for Mr. Todd while also showing Lovett's slow descent into madness. She evoked emotion into her character which elevated the scene every time she was on stage. Accompanying her of course was Chas Harmon in the role of Sweeney Todd, who carefully helped create the strong friendship between the two characters. Both played off each other and made scenes that were entertaining to watch.
Another big standout member of the cast was Jonas Aboagye, as Tobias Ragg. Jonas had almost the whole room laughing with his execution of jokes, and his use of physical comedy. He was then able to quickly switch with his serious and dramatic portrayal of Tobias going insane in the cellar.
Jami Hiller, Adelaide Sheets, Caitlynn Smith, and crew deserve recognition for the intricate backdrops created for this play, as the set design team. The four-sided spinning platform, designed to look like a pie pan, was a very creative way to showcase all of the sets. A special shout out to the running crew who executed all of the scene transitions quickly, and without fail to keep the story moving. With all the moving parts it was impressive to see how well rehearsed they were in moving everything to its appropriate spot.
Catherine Deaton, Adelaide Sheets, and Balma Yarza Ferrer on the lighting crew set the atmosphere with the flashes of red during the killing scenes, and delicately placed spotlights to enhance the flashbacks. Their perfect timing and placing of the lights was essential to the mood of the play.
Breathtaking sets, expressive acting, and diligent crew work made Campbell County's Sweeney Todd an eye-opening experience to the disturbing things that can happen right up under your nose.
Mrs. Lovett, played by Sarai Abogye, hatches a pie-making plan with Sweeney Todd, Chas
Harmon, inside her pie shop.
Excerpts From Other Top Reviews
"Chas Harmon, who played Sweeney Todd, was an impeccable representation of the mysterious unhinged barber. His execution of Sweeney made the production come to life. Harmon dictated his words very smoothly in an almost off-putting manner, which added the sinister passion this story thrives upon. His movements during the show were menacing, giving off a feeling of danger and maliciousness."
Julia Biernat, St. Urusula Academy Critic Team
"Overall, the cast of Sweeney Todd perfectly embodied the melodrama of the piece, with many leading characters making snarky or reflective asides to the audience, drawing them into the story. Additionally, the ensemble members played a variety of characters, from Victorian Townspeople to Newgate Patients, successfully differentiating each one."
Anna Grace Hull, Ursuline Academy Critic Team
"Not only did the actors put on a stunning performance but they were highlighted by the work of the technical crew. The set construction crew had an amazing attention to detail such as adding water stains to the walls of Mrs. Lovett's store. The story requires many quick changes from the set and the designers, specifically Adelaide Sheets, did an amazing job overcoming this challenge with the use of a turntable. In several cases, the set moved during a scene and showed an actor moving from Mrs. Lovett's Bakery to Todd's Barber Shop. Also, an important element to recognize were the costumes. All costumes were from the time period and portrayed the class of characters very well. The technical elements truly brought the audience to Fleet Street."
KJ Langlinais, Highlands High School Critic Team
"Jonas Aboagye's performance of Tobias Ragg embodied the youthfulness of Ragg through his use of rhythm and comedy, especially when he was in the cellar picking out body parts from the pies. His comedic performance added to the dramatic irony of the play."
Maya DeStazio, Roger Bacon High School Critic Team
"Mack Hodge and Aubrie Klei, portraying Anthony Hope and Johanna Barker respectively, had palpable chemistry and brought admirable innocence to an otherwise dark plot. Another memorable performance was that of Jonah Aboagye as Tobias Ragg. Aboagye flourished the character of Tobias from a childish young boy to a transformed person capable of murder."
Katie Buschle , Highlands High School Critic Team
"Although, the barber chair (rigged by Aiden Kleier) that dropped the cast members through a trapdoor (designed by Adelaide Sheets) equally added a sense of awe in every death scene. Another essential part of the show were the meat pies. The props crew took an inventive route to fill crescent roll dough with marshmallows They also chose to use real dull razors, which translated well onto the stage, creating a realistic effect."
Nora Shadwell, Highlands High School Critic Team
"Sound crew member Naila Browder, had the idea that when Sweeney killed someone, there should be a blood-curdling sound. Naila clipped the sound from Sweeney Todd the musical, which brought a nice creative aspect to the show. Another wonderful aspect of this show was the fact that their costumes made by the costume crew, led by Gracie Bridewell, looked as if they were truly from the correct time period. The crew of this show did a wonderful job having the show run smoothly."
Hope Schablein, Taylor High School Critic Team