Get a second look at Academy's production of 'Sweeney Todd'

It's a rare opportunity to be able to go back and visit a community production you saw months ago, so I'm looking forward to Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Visual and Performing Arts' "Sweeney Todd" Tuesday and Wednesday evening.

The magnet high school tackled the great Stephen Sondheim musical (about a serial killer) in November, and while it was impressive in many ways, it felt to me sloppy and uncertain. Some people whose opinions I respect told me I was flat out wrong, and I wondered if maybe things got better as the short run progressed. I'll get a chance to find out, since the thriller is being remounted at the Lowden Theatre in preparation for a performance at the International Thespian Conference at the end of June in Lincoln, Neb. According to director Glenn Edwards, about 100 people connected to the show will be making the trip, so the Las Vegas Academy is hoping local ticket sales will help cover expenses.

Reservations can be made by calling StarTicketPlus at (800) 585-3737. ...

Those of us fortunate enough to have attended productions at the acclaimed Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles probably understand how powerfully signed plays can be. Vegas got a whiff of the creativity involved thanks to a traveling production last week sponsored by the city's Department of Leisure Services. Sign Stage on Tour's "James and the Giant Peach," at the Reed Whipple Cultural Center, gave us five actors playing a slew of roles. The signing doubled the enjoyment. Not only did we get to watch the plot unfold, but we were kept in suspense moment-to-moment wondering how and by whom the signing was going to be accomplished. It's surprising how much fun can be had with this sort of thing. And since a good hunk of the preteen audience seemed to have excellent hearing (judging from reactions), it was especially rewarding to know many children probably were being exposed to this method of communication for the first time. The city consistently does an excellent job of providing unusual and skillful entertainments at minimal costs. ...

I can't leave the subject of unusual entertainment without mentioning the University of Nevada, Las Vegas' Senior Adult Theatre Program's production of A.R. Gurney's "The Dining Room" last week. Now, be it understood, you have to go to these shows with the right attitude. The performers have different degrees of experience, and no one is going to confuse their work with art. Regardless, maybe it's because of the evident enthusiasm, I don't know, but I always look forward to these bare-bones productions. By the way, the troupe is always looking for new members (for information, call 895-4673).

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.