Best Musical - 2007
Sweeney Todd by Masquerade Theatre
The black gloom of irony inherent in Stephen Sondheim's peerless 1979 musical was elevated by its epic sweep on every level: Grand Guignol-like revenge melodrama, characters who ranged from virginal to debauched, bleak world view of the powerlessness of the powerless, bouncy English music hall roots, cinematic staging, immaculate lyrics and gloriously robust music. In the hands of Masquerade Theatre director Phillip Duggins and music director Paula Smith, Sondheim's chilling work about the avenging "demon barber of Fleet Street" and his murderous killing spree was a tasty showcase for Houston's only musical theater company, and they chowed down on it as if it were one of Mrs. Lovett's savory meat pies. Leads Luther Chakurian and Rebekah Dahl, as Sweeney's amoral accomplice, were incandescent, as were young lovers Braden Hunt and Kristina Sullivan, and all supporting players. Sondheim's blistering work peeled the paint off Zilkha Hall. Ravishing.