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Sweeney Todd is Receiving “Standing Os”

The cast of Stephan Sondheim’s musical thriller “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” ranges in age from 12 to mature adult but their enthusiasm level is in the stratosphere
“It almost brings tears to my eyes to see our kids being saluted by the audiences that rise to their feet at the conclusion of each performance”, says producer Art Lieberman.
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Selinsgrove, PA – The cast of the opening production of the new Courtyard Theater at the Susquehanna Valley Mall was cheered this past weekend after all three performances.
“It almost brings tears to my eyes to see our kids being saluted by the audiences that rise to their feet at the conclusion of each performance”, says producer Art Lieberman. “I guess they don’t expect a community theater cast performing at a mall to rise to the level of excellence that our cast achieves. It’s like watching a family grow up and seeing them change from the day they auditioned to their present professionalism”
The cast of Stephan Sondheim’s musical thriller “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” ranges in age from 12 to mature adult but their enthusiasm level is in the stratosphere. The fifteen performers also range in experience from newcomer to professional, from college grads in theater to first-time actors.
Heading the cast is Matthew Fulkerson in the title role, with Gloria Lehman as Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney’s admiring counterpart. They tackle the Sondheim score with panache and vigorous performances. Other standouts in the play are Nick Buckman as Judge Turpin and Isaac Conner as his Beadle, Claire Brassard as Tobias, assistant to barber Pirelli, portrayed vigorously by Jeremy Shaffer and the lovers Anthony and Joanna, played by Nathan Fulkerson and youthful soprano Hanna Hook. There’s also the ever-present beggar woman played to the hilt by Davena McCabe.
The remaining ensemble, Jerry Keebler, Noah Fenstermacher, Alicia Slagle, Todd Maurer, Karen Herschell, Raechel Council and Haley Hook round out the cast and play multiple roles in the musical.
But it’s more than the wonderful performance of the cast that make the Courtyard Theater’s production of Sweeney unique. The set design is significantly different from other productions of this play, designed to fit precisely into the space of the mall stage. Artistic Director Bob Taylor has designed the set to display almost all of the settings at the same time. Judge Turpin’s house, Sweeney’s tonsorial parlor, Mrs. Lovett’s shop and the bakery beneath are all omnipresent. Her parlor, replete with couch and harmonia and Fogg’s Asylum gate are moved quickly into place so there is no interruption in the flow of the play.
The sound and lighting, designed by Technical Director Nick Buckman, with sound provided by Trey Phillips of Phillip’s Supply House, also enhances the performance.
Finally, the pre-recorded orchestral soundtrack and the vocals are beautifully directed by accomplished musician Michael Blaustein. Above all, Mike deserves credit for manipulating the leads and chorus through a score which is ever-present.
All in all, this first effort by the production team of Lieberman and Taylor is stunning in it’s presentation. Their choice of Sweeney Todd as the opening presentation of their theater has proven to be a success from a performance point of view. Of course, the final decision is in the hands of the viewing public, and with two more weeks of performances left to come, the final reviews are not in yet. But if the e-mails the duo is receiving and the Face book chatter is any indication, they are headed in the right direction.
Tickets are available by calling 570-364-0060, or on the theater’s website at www.thecourtyardtheater.com.

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