By the time I got back from Baltimore, there were only two more nights of “Sweeney Todd” at the Clarence Brown Theatre. All of the reviews said this was probably one of the best productions ever at Clarence Brown because of the top-notch performers, staging, set design, and costumes. Actress Dale Dickey — a Knoxville native gone Hollywood who’s best known for portraying women who are a little rough around the edges (“My Name Is Earl” and more recently “True Blood”) — was playing the part of Mrs. Lovett, so that definitely contributed to the buzz around this particular production of the musical.
I heard that all of the performances were completely sold out, but I called the box office to double check. And unfortunately that was true. However, the woman on the phone said that if I showed up at the theatre an hour before curtains, the box office would release a limited amount of held tickets. And I could get on a waiting list and potentially get to see the show.
So after work (and this was the day after coming back from Baltimore), I headed straight down to the University of Tennessee campus and ran up to the ticket counter to see if I could get on this waiting list. I put my name down, but it was WAY DOWN on the list, so I didn’t get my hopes up. The only thing working in my favor was that I wasn’t a student. University of Tennessee students can get discounted tickets, but I would have to pay full price (which the theatre would prefer). And there were several students at the top of the waiting list.
After waiting less than five minutes, I hear my name called, and I ended up getting a ticket and sitting in a fabulous seat in the house! Fourth row. Center.
And the show was spectacular!
The music was superb (the orchestra was located in the middle of the stage), and the accents were pretty good. (I always feel bad for an actor when he can’t pull off an accent quite right.) The reviews were right on. The acting and singing were great. The staging was excellent. And I especially loved the way projection was used to create background images, dream sequences, thoughts, and even the blood splatter. The blood splatter was an awesome effect.
I was absolutely impressed by the quality of the production, and I’m looking forward to more great musicals at Clarence Brown!