Music, theatre departments unite for ‘Sweeney Todd’

Rebecca Grover

When the musical “Sweeney Todd” opens tonight, the stage will be filled with false accusations, meat pies and a demon barber.

Director David Young said the musical, which opens at 8 p.m. tonight in Russell H. Miller Theatre in the fine arts center, will have dark humor.

“It is dark and gory,” said Young, who is an assistant professor of theatre and dance. “It builds off old melodramas. It is meant to be scary.”

The performance will run through Tuesday and Young said it’s the largest production this year in terms of size by a collaboration between the music and theatre and dance departments.

All performances are at 8 p.m. except for Sunday which is set for 3 p.m. All tickets are $8.

Nanci Hall, an office associate in theatre and dance, couldn’t estimate how many tickets have been sold per show but said the musical is selling well.

“We strongly suggest making reservations,” she said.

Reservations can be made by calling 745-3121.

Young said Sweeney Todd existed in British popular culture for several hundred years, and several versions of the Sweeney Todd character exist in history. He was introduced in literature in cheap novellas sold on the streets of Britain.

Young said the Sweeney Todd character is seen as a “boogey man” in Britain.

The story follows Benjamin Barker, who was wrongly convicted and sent out of the country by a judge who wanted Barker’s wife.

The man returns as Sweeney Todd for revenge. He works as a barber and Mrs. Lovett, a meat pie baker, assists him.

The play “Sweeney Todd” opened in the 1970s in London and was very popular. Stephen Sondheim saw it and decided to turn it into a musical. He created music and lyrics to go with the play.

In 1979, “Sweeney Todd” opened as a musical in New York. It won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Western’s production of the musical includes 32 cast members, nine orchestra members and a conductor.

Gravel Switch senior Ryan Lanham plays the part of Sweeney Todd and said the musical is in a genre of its own.

“I expect it to be a great show,” Lanham said.

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