Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a Musical Thriller
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler

The Grand Theatre | October 5 – 28, 2023

Stephen Sondheim’s beloved dark classic is a thrilling musical that tells the tale of Sweeney Todd, a vengeful barber who returns to London after being wrongfully imprisoned for years. With the help of his twisted accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney seeks to exact revenge on those who ruined his life, using his razor-sharp skills to dispatch his victims and bake them into savory pies. But as his obsession consumes him, he risks losing everything—including his humanity.

SWEENEY TODD | Dallyn Vail Bayles
MRS. LOVETT | Tamara Howell
ANTHONY HOPE | Brock Dalgleish
JOHANNA | Samantha Paredes
JUDGE TURPIN | Patrick Kintz
THE BEADLE | Trevor Blair
PIRELLI | Christian Johnston
TOBIAS RAGG | Heidi Farber
ENSEMBLE | Shawnda Moss
ENSEMBLE | Noelani Brown
ENSEMBLE | Katelynn Smith
ENSEMBLE | Madison Archibald
ENSEMBLE | Elizabeth Petrucka
ENSEMBLE | Caleb Gordon
ENSEMBLE | Skylar Hawker
ENSEMBLE | Miles Broadhead
ENSEMBLE | Zac Freeman

STAGE MANAGER | Caroline Cain
ASM | Marci Piña
MUSICAL DIRECTOR | Jonathan McDonald
SET DESIGNER | Halee Rasmussen
DIALECT COACH | Stacey Jenson
COSTUME | Shannon McCullock
WIG & MAKE-UP | Erin McCullock
PROPS DESIGNER | Maire Nelligan
PROPS DESIGNER | Arika Schockmel

This production started in 1982.

Though Sweeney Todd opened on Broadway in 1979, it’s the 1982 recording of the National Tour for PBS Great Performances that started me on a path to this production.

I must have first seen it in 1984 or 1985, back when broadcast television could repeat shows for years on end. At some point I watched George Hearn (who replaced the original Sweeney, Len Cariou) and Angela Lansbury, and that magical rotating cube of a set designed by Eugene Lee, and that famous ear-splitting whistle blast that announced from the very beginning that this was unlike any musical before it.

I ended up taping it off the air the next time WTTW showed it, and that ratty VHS became a prized possession. As I started doing theatre in High School, I began watching the full recording every day I had a performance. It started as an inspiration, turned into a habit, and by my senior year it had become a ritual. It represented everything I wanted from theatre: shocking, thrilling, funny and so very, very beautiful.

I had never really appreciated musicals, but even my untrained ear could hear that Sondheim was something different. In my AP Music Theory class, I wrote a paper arguing that distinguishing between Sweeney Todd and a traditional opera was unnecessary: it had brought musicals and opera to a point where they were indistinguishable. I was a bass in the school concert choir, but worked for all my years there to expand my singing range in the vain hope of one day being able to sing “Johanna”, which I still think is perhaps the greatest song from any musical.

My obsession faded, as so many teenage obsessions do. But Sweeney Todd always stayed with me. My greatest regret about leaving musical theatre as an actor was that I’d never get to play Sweeney or The Judge. As I became a director later in life, I focused on straight dramas and it was only in 2022 that I directed my first musical.

When we were planning this season at The Grand and discussing the October musical, Seth Miller said “What about Sweeney Todd?”. I was like a kid on Christmas morning. Though it’s been almost 40 years since I first fell in love, it still represents everything I want from theatre: shocking, thrilling, funny and so very, very beautiful.

I’m deeply grateful to Salt Lake Community College and The Grand for making this dream a reality, and to all the fantastic talents on-stage and off who have created this show. I particularly want to thank Music Director Jonathan McDonald and Choreographer Jessica Pace who supported my musical-newbie self, and Stage Manager Caroline Cain who I’ve worked with for over a decade and who I cherish in every rehearsal I get to have with her.

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