Friday, October 15, 2010

A Day in the Life of Boston Conservatory: A Little Ribbon Cutting by Mayor Menino - A Little Throat Slitting by Sweeney Todd



I just spent a fascinating few hours at the Boston Conservatory. Today was the day for the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the opening of the Hemenway Project, the Conservatory's new performance and rehearsal space. Today's celebration caps the efforts of hundreds of BoCo trustees, faculty, staff, donors and supporters as well as City of Boston officials over the course five years. Mayor Menino was on hand to offer words of encouragement and to wield the ceremonial scissors. He was assisted by BoCo alumnus, Tony nominee and American Idol star, Constantine Maroulis, currently in Boston appearing in Rock of Ages.

Our mayor was warm, personable and effusive in his praise of Boston Conservatory as an institution that combines two of the best features of the city - education and the arts. I have heard Mayor Menino speak on countless occasions, and this was his finest oratorical moment. He departed on several occasions from prepared remarks to make personal comments about an evening a few years ago when he and his wife attended a performance in the old BoCo theater, a superannuated space that lacked air conditioning. On the evening that he was recalling, the temperature in the theater reached 99 degrees. He regaled the audience with his quip: "With this new air conditioned theater, I don't need to worry about coming to a show and having to wear my Speedo!" BoCo President, Richard Ortner introduced other dignitaries in the crowd, including Board Chairman, Al Houston. The Boston Conservatory Cabaret, under the musical direction of Liam Forde, entertained the crowd with the aptly chosen "The Best of Times is Now."

As you can see from the photo above, Constantine Maroulis appeared for the ribbon cutting in stunning tonsorial splendor - which conveniently allows me to segue into discussing a certain barber: Sweeney Todd - the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Sondheim's classic Grand Guignol musical has been chosen as the Main Stage production at BoCo for this semester. With the permission of the Director, Neil Donohoe, head of BoCo's Musical Theater Department, I stayed for the cast's run-through of Act 2. From what I observed, this show may be the best thing done as a Main Stage production at BoCo in a long while.

Let me give you some reasons to get on the phone and order your tickets right now. The ensemble is perfectly cast - and Broadway ready. I have a bit of a history with this show, having seen the original Broadway production twice - the first time with Len Cariou as Sweeney and the inimitable Angela Lansbury as Mr. Lovett. The second time I sat in the audience at the Uris Theater, Angela was still in the role of the villainous pie maker, and Sweeney was portrayed by George Hearn. This cast of BoCo students - even in an early stage rehearsal with no costumes, no props, no final blocking - was stunning in their energy and execution (pun intended!). Sondheim is notorious for his difficult rhythms, lyrics and harmonies, yet the singing was spectacular. At the risk of leaving out many worthy of note here, several cast members caught my eye in this brief preview of what will doubtless be a memorable final product. Robert Lance Mooney in the role of Sweeney Todd is chilling, frightening and mesmerizing. His performance alone will be well worth the price of admission. Other cast members that bear watching are Dan Rosales as Tobias, Julie Thomas as Mrs. Lovett, Daniel George as Pirelli, Trent Mills as Judge Turpin, Marissa Miller as Johanna, Spencer Glass as the Beadle, Elizabeth Berg as The Begger Woman, Mike Heslin as Anthony. The ensemble was particularly impressive in the lunatic asylum scene, each actor evoked their particular madness with a unique mannerism, tic, or grimace.

I usually judge a successful evening at the theater by whether I have been moved to tears at some point, and also experience the frisson of chills running up and down my spine. I don't want much - merely transcendence! How rare it is to experience such things in an early rehearsal.

I plan to be in the new theater - the ribbon having been duly cut today - when the curtain rises on the finished product of Sweeney Todd, which opens on Thursday, October 28. I would love to have you join me for a memorable, spine-tingling, tear-inducing, wonderful and transcendent evening of theater. Come and see Broadway's future stars at less than Broadway prices. There will be performances throughout that weekend, ending with a Sunday matinee on the 31st.

Visit the Boco website to order tickets or call the Box Office at (617) 912-9222 during business hours, Monday-Friday, 12pm-6pm.

Sweeney Todd Tickets

Order your tickets now. There are tickets left for each performance, but they will not last long once the word gets around about how great this show is going to be.

Attend the Tale of Sweeney Todd!

Al

1 comment:

Asako Yanagi said...

On the strength of Al's word, I went to opening night. How good was it? So exhilarating, so "transcendent," that I didn't even mind the $40 parking ticket I found on my windshield(well, I minded a little). Go, but take the T.
-Tom Griffith