“Benninghofen was magnetic throughout, and his performance helped to make this Sweeney Todd one of the musicals of the decade."
“He didn’t just play the part; he took the sinister barber to astonishing depths and heights.”
“He made the audience feel every cut of his razor, and walked a brilliant fine line between sympathy and outright madness.” “Razor-sharp actor.”
“On stage, Benninghofen has a natural, roguish charm and a busy, kinetic energy — meticulous and studied in gesture and posture.”
“His voice is supple, yet in its natural timbre it cuts like a steak knife.”
Benninghofen had a rather big year amid a distinguished career on Twin Cities stages. He is a meticulous physical performer, which he showed beautifully as Joxer Daly in Joe Dowling’s production of “Juno and the Paycock” at the Guthrie. Last fall, he took on his first professional musical performance in the title role of Theater Latte Da’s staging of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” He not only survived this auspicious singing debut, he hit it out of the park. He will reprise that role in early 2017 at the Pantages Theatre. Benninghofen always makes himself known with his energy and charismatic presence.
Actors love playing the bad guys, but that doesn't mean it's easy. Over the past 12 months, Mark Benninghofen has taken on a trio of characters who either ride the line between good and evil or fully embrace the dark side. In turn, it has been a tremendous year for the veteran performer, who went from strong supporting work to what might be the defining role of his career.
Late in 2014, Benninghofen played Gibbs in Dark & Stormy Productions' The Hothouse. This early Harold Pinter play is loaded with menace, and a lot of that comes from Benninghofen's role. The production offered plenty of challenges for the actors, including a difficult Pinter script and a staging that spread the action throughout a vast atrium. Through it all, Benninghofen remained magnetic.
He played a different kind of villain later in the spring when he took on Joxer in Joe Dowling's swan song at the Guthrie, Juno and the Paycock. Joxer was a jovial type, and the best mate of the main character, Jack. Yet as the play unfolded, the light touches in his performance gave way to something more sinister. Joxer only cared about himself, and Benninghofen made that crystal clear.
But it was Benninghofen's turn as the title character in Theatre Latte Da's Sweeney Todd that sealed the deal. The actor was a musical theater novice when he was thrust into one of the most challenging roles in Stephen Sondheim's songbook. He didn't just play the part; he took the sinister barber to astonishing depths and heights. He made the audience feel every cut of his razor, and walked a brilliant fine line between sympathy and outright madness. He may not have had the fully trained pipes of past Sweeney Todds, but the roughness in his singing fit the role perfectly. Benninghofen was magnetic throughout, and his performance helped to make this Sweeney Todd one of the musicals of the decade.
4. Juno and the Paycock
Joe Dowling said goodbye to two decades at the Guthrie with his best directing in years. This rich production about impoverished tenement dwellers during the Irish Civil War was both hilarious and heartbreaking.
1. Sweeney Todd
Fueled by Mark Benninghofen's stunning performance in the title role, Theatre Latte Da's dark carnival of a musical featured a barber who kills his clients and cooks their remains. The grimy vibe added a razor's sharpness to Stephen Sondheim's gorgeous score.