What do a love story, cannibalism and a murderous avenging barber have in common? They are all parts of Steven Sondheim’s musical, "Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street," which will be presented jointly by Catawba College’s Theatre Arts Department and the Blue Masque at 7:30 p.m. November 16-19 in Keppel Auditorium on campus.
The eight-time Tony Award-winning musical thriller is based on the 1973 Christopher Bond play and the book by Hugh Wheeler. Packed with murderously funny moments of dark humor, "Sweeney Todd" is the infamous tale of an unjustly exiled barber who returns to Victorian London seeking the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his wife. The barber slices a chilling path through the city, feeding his thirst for blood with lyrical eloquence. With him every step of the way is the enterprising Mrs. Lovett whose pie shop downstairs soon has all of London queuing up for her delicious new recipe.
The legend of Sweeney Todd dates as far back as the 14th century and first appeared on stage as a melodrama and morality play in 1847 London. Sweeney Todd is the English bogeyman; the character older children call upon to frighten their friends and younger children. Unruly youngsters are cautioned against misbehaving with threats of being attacked by Sweeney and served up in a meat pie. Playwright Bond changed the old bogeyman story into a morality tale about vengeance, justice and how obsession can destroy good and bad alike. His social commentary which condemns both greed and exploitation is one of the elements which originally attracted Sondheim to musicalize the story.
The production is directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Missy Barnes with Joey Yow, a junior from High Point serving as assistant director. Junior Lauren Connolly of Moon Township, Pa., serves as stage manager, while sophomore Candace Neal of Waxhaw serves as assistant stage manager.
Cast members include senior Rory Dunn of Vale as Sweeney Todd; sophomore Andy McCain of Mequon, Wis., as Pirelli; junior Guiseppe Ritorto of Greensboro as Beadle; senior Ali Keirn of Salisbury as Mrs. Lovett; freshman Paul Saylor of Isle of Palms, S.C., as Anthony Hope; sophomore Brianna Smith of Austin, Texas, as Lucy, the Beggar Woman; senior Loren Armitage of Proctor, Vt., as Judge Turpin; freshman Tiffany Kelly of Franklin, Tenn., as Johanna; and freshman Jess Hunter of Bridgewater, Va., as Jonas Fogg. Soloists include sophomore Jordan Danz of Mequon, Wis; and junior Jordan Richards of Hendersonville. Members of the Ensemble include junior Jared Wietbrock of Loganville, Ga.; junior Amy Guenther of Asheville; junior Jes Dugger of Gainesville, Fla.; junior Elizabeth Ballard of Culpeper, Va.; senior Johnathan Menius of Kannapolis; junior Jessica Moretti of Charlotte; freshman Tiffany Tesh of Summerfield; senior Kelly Flick of Newport News, Va.; freshman Meghan McLaughlin of Owings Mills, Md.; freshman Kenzie Brogden of Wilmington; freshman Matthew Newton of Holly Springs; freshman Molly Harris of Mocksville; junior Jessica Pruett-Barrett of Georgetown, Del.; sophomore Michael Lasris of Seaford, Va.; sophomore Sam Brooks of Seaford, Va.; junior Michelle McCaffrey of New Windsor, N.Y.; junior Meredith Fox of Elon; sophomore Sarah Koerner of Rocky Mount; freshman Jared Kenish of Glassboro, N.J.; freshman Lisaney "Sonny" Kong of Matthews; sophomore Daniel Hines of Yorktown, Va.; sophomore Emily Wonderly of Hicksville, Ohio; sophomore Jessica Taige of Wauwatosa, Wis.; sophomore Jonathan Jordan of Virginia Beach, Va.; senior Kate Nielson of Tolland, Ct.; sophomore Jesse Frank of Baltimore, Md.; sophomore Sara Scronce of Newton; junior Tiffany Cox of O’Fallon, Ill.; freshman Ben Zachary of Galax, Va.; and sophomore Sheldon Rogers of Waxhaw.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for non-Catawba students and senior citizens. For more information, call the Catawba College Box Office at 704-637-4481. Group rates are available. "Sweeney Todd" contains adult situations and language. Audience members should “attend the tale” at their own risk.