Book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed and Choreographed by Judith Jarosz
Produced by Theater 2020
Nominees: Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role, Zack Krajnyak; Outstanding Ensemble: Adam Baritot, Jefferson Behan, Amber Dewey, Samuel Floyd, David Fuller, John Jeffords, Zack Krajnyak, Samantha Kronenfeld, Lorinne Lampert, Tom McDonough, James Neufeld, Chrysten Peddie, Catherine Purcell, Mary Thorne, Tyler Whitaker
About the Company: Theater 2020, Inc., Visions for a New Millennium is dedicated to producing classic and contemporary plays and musicals for a 21st Century audience and to providing a nurturing atmosphere for both emerging artists and seasoned professionals. We are dedicated to reaching out to the community and to producing quality theater at affordable prices, utilizing established professionals and fostering young artists as they emerge into the theatrical mainstream, with a particular emphasis on providing more opportunities for women in theater.
About the Production: Originally done in 1979 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet
Street is a musical thriller with music by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler. The musical was based on the 1973 play by Christopher Bond. There have been numerous revivals and a film adaptation.
What first attracted you to this project?
Baritot: I worked with this company the previous year and had a wonderful time!
I am a great lover of Sondheim's works, and I always jump at a chance to do
Purcell: I am a huge Stephen Sondheim fan and I have never had the chance to
work on one of his shows, so when this presented itself I jumped.
Fuller: The show itself. Stephen Sondheim.
Jarosz: Sondeim is brilliant.
Peddie: Sweeney Todd has been one of those bucket list shows for me since I
first got into theater as a young person. I was also drawn to the idea of gender-
blind casting the role of Pirelli, as if it were a pants-role in an opera. It can often
feel like there are not nearly enough opportunities for women in musical theater,
so creating one by making this role available to women, I thought, was so cool. It
was so much fun to be able to swagger around like a true lothario, while singing
high C's in the process!
Lampert: That's easy! Mrs. Lovett has been a dream role of mine since I was in
high school, and Sweeney Todd is my favorite show.
Thorne: I love singing Sondheim!
Behan: This score is a masterpiece, it is a dream to sing.
Krajnyak: Sweeney Todd has always been one of my all-time favorite pieces and I jumped at the chance to work on it.
What was your favorite part of working on this production?
Baritot: The opportunity to work with such a talented group of actors and producers. I feel blessed to have been a part of such a production!
Purcell: I fell in love with the show itself; every night something new revealed
itself to me in the script or the score, it's a real treasure trove.
Fuller: Working with the great people involved.
Jarosz: The staff, the cast, the crew, and ... did we mention SONDHEIM?
Peddie: Singing Sondheim's glorious score. That music is unparalleled and it was a joy to come to rehearsals and performances and get to sing it for hours!
Lampert: As a self-proclaimed Sondheim freak, it's always amazing noticing new internal rhymes and really analyzing the lyrics. It's difficult material musically, and - and this is going to seem overly obvious , but - it's always fun hunkering down and really learning all the notes! Mrs. Lovett has a lot of patter that the ear glosses over, and it was great nailing those notes down.
Behan: Working with this incredible cast. Some of the best voices I have ever
Krajnyak: The score is masterful in every way and I loved being in the room with
such talented artist who really breathed life into the piece. It was also thrilling to work and tell this story in such and intimate space.
What was the biggest challenge of working on this production?
Purcell: Stepping into the role of Johanna with only 3 days of rehearsal provided
a unique challenge; it was certainly thrilling but lots of memorizing and blocking
crammed into that period.
Fuller: Learning the tricky parts of Sondheim's music.
Jarosz: The staging (it's a small venue, so we "wrapped" the audience) and the music, it's very challenging, but it pays off, big time.
Peddie: Singing Sondheim's glorious score! Haha! The man is revered in this
business for a reason. The way he writes isn't for the feint of heart. It challenges
you as a musician and you really have to work hard at it, because you want to do
Did anything unique or memorable happen during this production?
Purcell: We only had one piano to play that entire score; our music director
handled it wonderfully.
Jarosz: Well..it was funny when audience members jumped up and down or shrieked with delight when caught off guard by some the the staging...hee, hee, hee.....
Peddie: The gender-bending was a fun addition, although it is certainly not the
first time Pirelli has been played by a woman. I thought our costumes, with their
steam punk/goth influence, were particularly cool. Performing such a dark piece
in a church also added a funereal element to it.
What was it like working with Theater 2020?
Purcell: The cast was so perfectly assembled; they were a really lovely group.
Peddie: The incredibly talented, supportive and wonderful cast. They made it a
pleasure to come to the show every day.
Did you learn anything from your time working on Sweeney Todd?
Purcell: Of course! Always be prepared for what seems very unlikely was
probably my biggest takeaway.
Peddie: It was a pleasure to re-discover my soprano voice in this show! I
typically get cast in roles where I am required to belt or mix. This was the first
real, high soprano role I have gotten to sing and it was such a joy to get to
reconnect with that part of my voice.
Make sure to follow Theater 2020 on Twitter @theater2020
Contributed by Victoria Muzzio