Sweeney Todd at Summit High School

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Replace the plastic seats with red velvet, the stark white ceiling with fancy plasterwork, and add a mezzanine and you would think you were on Broadway, not at a suburban high school. Because the talent was every bit worthy of the Great White Way, from the voices of the leads to the precision of the ensemble to the orchestra in the pit. And this is Sondheim at his most complex and dark, not just some Disney fluff.

Summit is a leafy suburb of 25,000 whose great train service to Manhattan make it the bedroom community for Wall Street. But Summit also has a conduit to Broadway and Hollywood. Some 50 Summit alumni can be found in iMDB’s database of famous entertainment folk, including actors, writers, musicians, cinematographers, directors, and producers. No less a name than Meryl Streep heads the list.

Summit High does a Broadway-quality show every year. This year, they went all-out with the penny-dreadful tale of “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” I suppose last year’s run of “The Producers” was not edgy enough to fully exercise these kids’ chops. The run is over, but book early for next year.

Phil Neches

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