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  • Writer's pictureNora Landy

Review: Sweeney Todd (2023 Broadway Revival)

Josh Groban has a naturally beautiful voice. I would love to watch him in an opera. His neck tension is through the roof and he twists his whole noggin on every offset through the entire show. His inability to authentically portray tortured grief made me understand why everyone was saying this role was outside his wheelhouse.

Annaleigh Ashford is adorable and quirky as always. The way she pronounces “London,” regarding the city which houses the worst pies, was deeply upsetting to me and reminiscent of the Law and Order SVU theme (lun-dun). My guess is that this was not her fault. She landed several successful laugh-out-loud bits that made the audience adore her. Spoiler: unsure if the staging is always this iffy, but it was very clear that she stepped directly into the oven of her own free will. It was both slow and visible.

Gaten Matarazzo was the standout performance; he was charming and youthful, funny and authentic, and did his best with what I’ve always considered to be a missed ending to an incredible show.

The movement, both choreography and staging, was juvenile and resisted invention with all its might. (We GET IT. Johanna is like a BIRD. You really didn’t have to hit us over the head with that one! Sondheim already gave us a whole song about it!) I felt like I was watching a student movement piece. Endless opportunities to reinvent a beloved show, and none of them taken! I could have been convinced it was a very high budget high school production.

Also, re: Having the People Who Were Just Freed from Bedlam Laugh Maniacally at Sweeney to Mark a Key Spooky Point in His Nightmare Montage: really? You couldn’t think of a single thing to do there that wouldn’t veer toward grounds for a copyright infringement lawsuit from your local haunted house?

The chorus sounded incredible and inspired goosebumps at every turn.

I missed the whistle.

ETA: Groban’s “ALRIGHT!” in Epiphany was incredible, one of the most authentic moments in the show and one of my favorite Epiphanies I’ve ever seen— it’s a shame the staging gave him nowhere to go with it.

Did I cry: Yes

Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

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