Phil Stone. Andy Dufresne. Harry Kamataris. Danny Pacheco. Dick Stone.
If there were a Falmouth Barber’s Hall of Fame, these guys would headline the first induction ceremony. Each of them represents a slice of Falmouth history, having stood behind thousands of Falmouthites, hearing thousands of stories, preparing for hundreds of weddings, and serving generations of local families.
The local barber shop is the local institution where you go where you are always greeted with a warm and sincere smile, and everyone truly knows your name. It’s the place (in addition to the pages of the Enterprise and this column) to find out what’s happening in town. Local pols seeking a vote, salesmen seeking a lead, and citizens looking for an update on the latest gossip have stopped into our local barber shops for decades. They are and always have been part of our local fabric. Candidates for local office know that Andy’s Barber Shop is an obligatory stop on the road to electoral success. Patriots and Sox fans know that Stone’s is a font of statistical information and prognostication for our favorite local teams. Yes, you get so much more than a haircut at these local institutions.
Sweeney Todd’s Barber Shop is similar. And different. In addition to the traditional haircut, shave, and chatter, customers also get so much more, but they don’t leave with the smile and contentment of a Falmouth clipping locale. They’re dying to get inside, as this second-floor commercial hub is the newest rage in all of London. Some then die to get out. Literally. Skilled with a razor far beyond the sometimes mundane practice of shaving stubble, Sweeney Todd has worked hard to refine and perfect the art of cleanly and swiftly slicing throats. Yes, throats. With the precision of a surgeon, Sweeney services and then eliminates customers – one bloody soul at a time.
Lucky for him, his downstairs neighbor Nellie Lovett is equally committed to commercial success, and equally deranged and wickedly driven. She takes Sweeney’s former – and dead – customers and endeavors on her daily grind (pun intended), making London’s most delicious and popular meat pies from her neighbor’s soils and toils. Their commercial collaboration is a marriage made in, well, hell.
Of course, this gruesome departure from the tranquility and community character of Andy’s and Stone’s is not real. It is a hilariously fictional account brought to vivid and entertaining life through the Falmouth Theater Guild’s (FTG) latest smashing success, “Sweeny Todd – the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” Our local thespians and melodic masters continue to dazzle crowds with this energetic and hysterical offering, demonstrating once again the immense talent that exists within our borders.
Peter Cook is devilishly superb as the demonic Sweeney Todd. His comedic timing is impeccable, and he plays the role of the tortured and troubled barber with sincerity and passion. The chemistry between him and stage veteran Bonnie Fairbanks, who brings equal enthusiasm and aplomb to her portrayal of the wickedly cracked pie maven Nellie Lovett, is tangible and intense. Fairbanks forges a connection with the audience through her immense talent and stage presence, enabling her to bring the entire cast to a greater level of comedic and musical success.
With those two powerhouse performances, it would be understandable if other cast members were outshined. Not so with this able and brilliant bunch. Brian Buczkowski excelled as the loveable yet equally deranged Tobias, and the team of Todd Fruth and Laura Cervinsky intertwined a believable and touching love story into the evening as Anthony and Johanna. Their marvelous vocal talents were a true treat, highlighting a solid choral performance by the entire cast. Alex Valentine, whose apt portrayal of the ambitious and wretched Beadle was also a highlight with his top-notch vocals.
Sondheim music can be a chore, with its nuances and complexities. This daunting fact did not intimidate the pit, whose musical accompaniment was outstanding, led by Muscial Director Roy Campbell. His FTG debut was a phenomenal start, and hopefully the first of many.
Director Joan Baird brought together her ‘merry band of Todders’ with Broadway-esque expertise and had them ensnaring the audience as a unit, brining all in attendance on a magical and mystical trip straight to Fleet Street in London. The energy was soaring from curtain to curtain.
Phil Stone and Andy Dufresne may have the day off, but the barber’s chair is open at Highfield Theater. I dare you to take a seat.