Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sweeney Todd Dressing Room


Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, is being presented by Clandestine-ARTs at The Venue, 511 Virginia Drive, Orlando, Fl, through January 19th. This compact production is directed and produced by Derek Critzer. I have read reviews that Ginger Minj who plays Mrs. Nellie Lovett is spectacular in the role. With that in mind, I hoped to get a sketch in the dressing room on industry night to watch his transformation at the dressing room mirror.

The dressing room at the Venue is at most ten by ten foot square and the entire cast of over 20 actors had to use the space. I did my best to try and stay out of every one's way.  Only one actress was in the dressing room when I arrived. She had on a bright pink skirt. She was happy to be early and she had plenty of time to get ready. It was only later, when I saw the show that I realized this was Monica Titus who plays Johanna Barker. She was perfectly cast for the roll. I was quite swept away. Monica's rich soprano voice has a warmth and range missing from the film adaptation. Her natural auburn hair was later covered in a wig of golden curls.

Derek came in and started steaming some pants. Stephan Jones, who plays Sweeney Todd, shouted out that it was a furnace in the tight dressing room. Even off set, there was a menace to his voice. Derek got some flack for shooting steam into the already sweaty space. Ginger Minj arrived and quickly transformed. He powdered his face first and let me know he would have to let the powder set for five minutes so he went off for a smoke.

It seemed like the rest of the cast arrived on mass and suddenly the room was buzzing with activity. Lips were painted a sickly blue on insane asylum patients whose eyes were also dark and hollow. Actors quickly stripped and put on costumes. Actors joked that I shouldn't sketch any nudity and I honored that. Even so, it would have been hard to catch the quick flashes of flesh. The pure energy and excitement in the tight space was quite palpable. Ginger was the last actor in the room, adjusting the large hair buns on her head. I followed her down to the theater. The evening's performance was sold out. The reviews I had read were spot on. Ginger Minj brought a quick wit to the part and stole every scene she was in. She eyed Mr. Todd with a lurid look as if she might devour him. I was surprised at how often she made me laugh out loud despite the dark sinister humor.

The remaining performances are...
Thursday 1/16-7:00 PM
Friday 1/17-8:00 PM
Saturday 1/18- 8:00 PM
Sunday 1/19- 3:00 PM

Tickets are $20.00 and are General Admission. Tickets may be purchased at www.clandestine-arts.com Limited seating is available so be sure to get them early. Tickets may be available at the door based on availability.

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