“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street tore up the stage Saturday, February 20, 2016, at downtown Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre in a frenzied whirl of greed, lust, insanity, and the occasional bucket of blood. Director and choreographer John de los Santos chose a muted palette of pewters and charcoals to set the tone, leaving the stage in a wash of industrial gloom.
Fresno Grand Opera’s Sweeney Todd is a macabre tour-de-force.”
*Named one of the Top Ten Theatre Productions of 2012 by The Examiner
“John de los Santos (and Level Ground Arts producer Billy Fountain) have brought Sweeney Todd to their stage without mitigation or compromise. De los Santos has done phenomenal work with this brilliant musical. You can’t bring off this kind of volatile, satirical story without a keen understanding of human nature and delicate chemistry. What de los Santos has accomplished is breathtaking..”
“The highly acclaimed musical receives a thrilling staging by Level Ground Arts. Despite the morbid premise, the show remains infused throughout with comic elements. John de los Santos directs this production with a light-hearted tone and an eye for those comic elements.”
“Walking into the KD Studio Theatre, the audience is greeted by a stark black & white set design by John de los Santos, complete with a chess board floor pattern. Many elements are combined into a wonderfully utilitarian design. The simplest pieces being tables and chairs, constantly rearranged by cast members as scenes changed, they work exquisitely to uphold the simple story-telling concept. [The production] has exceptionally haunting moments…overall, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Level Ground Arts is a fine production.” – thecolumnonline.com
“Level Ground Arts’ Sweeney Todd is bold and intimate. Director John de los Santos pulls riveting performances out of Strawbridge, Carpenter, Swarner and Music and seems full of ideas. Seemingly to create more performance space in the tiny KD Studio Theater, de los Santos (who also doubles as set designer) uses a series of tables which are rearranged between each number providing different layers and levels for his performers.”
“Level Ground Arts’ Sweeney Todd looks great. It’s easy to think of the bloody 1979 musical thriller as campy cannibalism set to music, but director John de los Santos chooses instead to draw out the story’s more haunting and tragic aspects. The set (also by de los Santos) and costumes (by Carver Upton) are leeched of color, giving the cast a deadly pallor that’s compounded by Bryan S. Douglas’ effective lighting design. The black-and-white checkered floor, especially, induces subtle reminders of Dario Argento’s visually whacked-out horror film Suspiria.”