By David Strauss and Nicole Carson
Directed by Paul Castaneda
Green Venue, 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival</strong>
It’s obviously impossible to squeeze a mega musical like “Annie” into the hour slot you get in the Fringe festival, so why not add “Sweeney Todd” to the playbill? By cleverly switching between plots and combining the good music you can ditch the boring stuff and the songs no one want to hear anyway. Strauss and Carson have pulled off this musical vivisection, and it careens along at double time. Daddy Warbucks (Brett Carson) lost track of little Anne (Mira Strauss) and she wanders back to Miss Hannibal’s (Carson) orphanage. Warbucks might not have done right by her, and now she’s out for revenge. After all, working as a child prostitute for 20 cents a night won’t pay the bills, not even in post war Brooklyn. Meanwhile, Hannigan and Rooster (Rob DelMedico) are feeding the orphans stray dogs, so there a plot device and a Chekhovian knife just waiting to be used. Anne corners Warbucks, the rest….well, it’s a bloody big production number.
The acting from this crew of local regulars is superb, this is one the strongest roles I’ve seen Carson perform. Strauss plays Sandy in an award looking puppy suit, and his butt-dragging exit was his top performance. A.C. smith plays Punjab, Warbucks’ assistant, and does a decent 7-11 counter clerk accent while looking tall and elegant. Mira Strauss as Anne didn’t thrill me, even for a child her voice doesn’t seem ready to fill a room and stay on note. I would have like to see more of Pepperelli (Nicky Urban) but his role was one that got sliced to fit everything else in. What you’ll remember most are the songs, from “Attend To The Tale of Annie Todd” to “The Sun Won’t Come Out Tomorrow”. Their clever parodies, and while the shows took some nips and tucks to splice together, it’s the songs than make for a great musical.
This event is part of the 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival. For schedule and ticket information, please visit http://OrlandoFringe.org