Carnage: Art vs. Art and “Sweeney”

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As I mentioned Monday, I finally got to Art vs. Art  (Sept. 26), the crazed art auction/game show/demolition derby that uptowned from Fountain Square to the Vogue this year.

I’ll confess to getting caught up in the same blood lust that fueled the large crowd, feeling a bit of disappointment whenever a work found a buyer rather than face the fate handed out by the Wheel of Death.

Could part of it be that I didn’t particularly love any of the work that made the finals? Or that it’s just more fun and exciting to see a chainsaw reduce a painting to pizza proportions (and have it covered with sauce and cheese, box, and rammed onto a spike) then it is to see a work carted off by someone writing a check?

Whatever the case, kudos to Primary Colors and their minions for staging a unique, crowd-pleasing event. And helping a few locals artists make some bucks.

I witnessed carnage, too, last night on stage at IU Auditorium where the non-Equity touring company of “Sweeney Todd” is stopping for a two-day stint. The tour didn’t include Indy, so a shot down I-65 to Bloomington last night seemed in order.

In a production based on director John Doyle’s recent acclaimed Broadway revival of the bloody barber tale, this “Sweeney” features a cast that also serves as orchestra, picking up their instruments as needed. The result is mixed. What’s gained in admiration for the talent is balanced by losses in dramatic and geographic focus.

In the title role, Merritt David Janes (who came through Indy last year as the lead in “The Wedding Singer”) proved adept and intense. Carrie Cimma offered a Dorothy Louden-esque Mrs. Lovett. David Alan Marshall was far too young to give Judge Turpin his full, creepy due. And most of the gore was provided by red water poured from bucket to bucket to symbolize the emptying jugulars.

An interesting side-trip for Todd, but I prefer the original staging (you can find it on DVD) and the Tim Burton film. Still, any opportunity to hear one of the greatest scores in Broadway history shouldn’t be missed. Tonight’s the last night.

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