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Sweeney Todd Terrorizes Stage

 

A hollow-eyed barber (played gloriously dark and broodingly by Senior Ali Marofi) and a fresh-faced young sailor (played honest and buoyantly by Junior Kevin Cox) entered the stage to begin the tale of Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Miller School this past weekend. The tale is a tragic one, of love lost, love found, injustice, murder, and madness.

Sweeney Todd is actually Benjamin Barker, a man who had been falsely accused of a crime and sent to an Australian prison for life because Judge Turpin (played most wickedly by Freshman Brenden Miller) had coveted his beautiful wife and wanted him out of the way.

The no longer naive, and newly named Todd returns to London obsessed and lusting for revenge. He takes up residence in his previous apartment above a pie shop owned by Mrs. Lovett (played confident and energetically by Senior Piper Hawley-Hayes), a lonely baker who secretly had always loved the barber. She tells him that his wife Lucy has died by poisoning herself and that his daughter Johanna (played innocently, but determined by Senior Katie Howard) is now the ward of his lustful enemy Judge Turpin.

This spurs Sweeney to new heights of rage and Mrs. Lovett promises to help him in his quest for vengeance. She presents him with his precious silver-handled razors that she has kept for him all these years and they spread the news of a new barber in Fleet Street in the hopes of luring Todd’s enemies into Sweeney’s chair.

However, Sweeney’s first kill is not the evil judge, but his barber rival Signor Pirelli (played with wit and flare by Senior Truman Guercio) when he shows up and attempts to black mail Todd by telling him he recognizes him from the past. Mrs. Lovett, never one to waste an opportunity, convinces Sweeney that the best way to get rid of Pirelli’s body would be to make him into some of her pies.

In the bargain Mrs. Lovett also gains Pirelli’s young assistant, a boy named Toby (played with childlike bravery by Junior Isabel Woodworth), he then becomes her assistant and with an uptick in pie sales due to the new secret ingredient, things begin to be looking up at the pie shop.

Meanwhile, Anthony Hope the young sailor has spied the beautiful Johanna in her window and fallen in love with her, vowing to rescue her from the judge. But when Johanna tries to escape the judge’s home, the loathsome judge has her locked away in a mental institution.

Things begin to spin out of control back at the pie shop as well, young Toby suspects Sweeney Todd of evil and tells Mrs. Lovett. Her reaction is to lock him in the basement and plan to put him into a pie like the others. A beggar woman (played with compassion and thought by Freshman Sicily Hawley-Hayes) continually hangs about the pie shop warning of doom and devils. But the main targets of Sweeney’s revenge, Judge Turpin and The Beadle (played with authority and influence by Senior Owen Nimmo) continue to allude him. Further down into madness does Sweeney Todd travel, bodies pile up and killing becomes common-place. Until one day when the beggar woman insists that she knows Sweeney, but because he is consumed with his plans for revenge and cannot be bothered with her, he kills her too. In haste, he finally gets his chance to do in The Beadle and the Judge shortly thereafter. But quickly satisfaction turns to grief when it comes to light that the beggar woman he has just dispatched is none other than his beloved wife Lucy who was not dead as he had been told. In his rage at Mrs. Lovett, she too becomes one of his victims. He is finally himself done in with his own razors. Fortunately, our young lovers and little Toby survive the carnage, but they are about the only ones in this cautionary tale of revenge and its unhappy consequences.

Other players in this entertaining musical who made up the company which played all the other rolls, and who masterfully weaved in and out of various characters and costumes, while also moving about scenery were Maria Nimmo as Jonas Fogg, Rena Conklin, Ainsley Hanson, Mia Jones, Jordan Melis, Lexi McCoin, and Lilly Nichols.

The musical was directed by Chris Celella, Mary Jo Burke, and Sarah Taylor who worked tirelessly on every aspect of the play, from painting the scenery, pulling together costumes, running lines, fixing equipment, and rehearsing long hours. But there is no doubt that the effort was worth the results and the audiences were appreciative of the entertainment and hard work. Well done everyone involved!

View more photos from rehearsal and the play here.

 

 

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