August 26, 2015 By Pamela Espeland MinnPost
As we sat in the Park Square Theatre in April, watching Mark Benninghofen and Sally Wingert play two former lovers snowed in at an airport in Steven Dietz’s “Shooting Star,” we never once looked at Benninghofen and thought, “Now there’sthe next demon barber of Fleet Street.”
Last December, when we saw him in Dark & Stormy’s production of Pinter’s “The Hot House,” we didn’t wonder, “But can he sing?”
He is, and apparently he can. Announced Monday by Theatre Latté Da, Benninghofen will join Wingert (once again) and Tyler Michaels in Latté Da’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd,” opening Sept. 23 at the Ritz.
What a sweet cast. Benninghofen, most recently in “Juno and the Paycock,”Joe Dowling’s final play at the Guthrie. Wingert, who can play anyone (her Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s “Master Class” was indelible), as Mrs. Lovett, pie-shop proprietress. The amazing Michaels, who made us forget Joel Gray when he took the role of emcee in “Cabaret,” then zoomed from there to Freddy in “My Fair Lady” and Puck in “Midsummer” the Guthrie and earlier this summer wrapped “Peter Pan” at the Children’s Theatre.
Benninghofen said in a statement, “I have never performed in a musical. I have always separated myself immediately from actors with the remarkable skills needed for musicals. But I saw the final preview of the original ‘Sweeney Todd’ on Broadway with Len Cariou in 1979. ... blew my mind. Since then ‘Sweeney Todd’ has been the only musical that calls to me as an actor.”
With Peter Rothstein directing, and Latté Da settling into the Ritz, this seems like a natural top pick for fall. In previews Sept. 23-25, opening night Sept. 26, ends Oct. 25. FMI and tickets ($31-$45).