St. Louis did not lack for memorable productions of Stephen Sondheim musicals this year. In addition to Sunday in the Park with George at the Rep (see "Best Ensemble Cast in a Musical"), Sondheim's 1979 musical thriller Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis was galvanizing. Sweeney seems to defy categorization. Some describe it as a musical; others as an opera. Sondheim has labeled it "a movie for the stage." Whatever it is, it grabs you by the throat and only lets go long enough to allow you to be transported by hauntingly beautiful melodies. In the title role, Rod Gilfry loomed over an already towering production. In terms of ardent encomiums, it would be tough to top the Chicago Tribune reviewer who wrote that if there were any justice in the theater world, Opera Theatre's Sweeney Todd "would go straight to Broadway and run forever." And if it did, the theater marquee would have a big sign in lights that read: DIRECT FROM ST. LOUIS.
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