‘Sweeney Todd’ hits the stage this week

Starting Feb. 7, the school’s production of Sondheim’s chilling musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is coming to Sonoma State University’s Person Theater. 

The story follows Sweeney Todd, a man who was banished to Botany Bay before escaping and making it to London where he seeks revenge on those who have wronged him.

 “It’s a story about oppression and what happens to a person when they’re oppressed. How far will they go to get revenge and try to retrieve their lost life?” musical director Lynne Morrow said. 

Rachel Levin as Mrs. Lovett and Noah Evans as Sweeney Todd rehearsing last Thursday evening.

Rachel Levin as Mrs. Lovett and Noah Evans as Sweeney Todd rehearsing last Thursday evening.

The show portrays a wide range of genres including, “An old British  music hall number which is comic. There are other moments that are high romance and other moments that are horror.” stage director Doyle Ott said.

Auditions began the first week of last semester and rehearsals started shortly afterwards. The cast and crew have been practicing diligently and put in plenty of effort to ensure that this production will be astounding, according to junior cast member Vivian Knee. 

“A lot of work has gone into this. We started just learning the rhythms of the songs, then moved to the actual notes, and then we started adding blocking and lines, and everything is coming together so nicely now,” Knee said.

Not only have the actors had a tremendous amount of work to do, but so have the members working behind the scenes. “Sweeney Todd” is a musical with a plethora of different components and set pieces so it took some creative thinking to work around this.

 “Not just the amount of different scenic elements that go into it but the dangers of the scenic elements,”  stage manager Sammy Summerfield said when asked about the tricky components of the musical, “Like the chair that shoots people down into another level. That’s dangerous for just students! It’s been a lot of brainthought, a lot of talking to the cast about everything, make sure everyone is comfortable and able to act to their fullest.”

Many of the students working on the production are theatre or music majors so this is a chance for them to show off what they can do. 

“This is developmental. This production is happening for them because they are ready to do this work,” Morrow said. 

The transformation from when they first started to where they are now is noticeable to those who have been working on the production. Assistant director Lindsey Abbott worked on the show for the first two weeks but then worked on the school’s production of Mr. Burns for some time. 

“Once I got out of Burns, I returned to these rehearsals in November and it was amazing how far they had gotten,” Abbott said. “I was able to be there for one of the first run-throughs of the first act and it was amazing what they could do.”

After watching the musical, if you’re interested in being part of next year’s production as an actor Ott mentioned, “The main thing is to prepare an audition for the first week of classes in the fall.”

 If you would rather work in a more “behind the scenes” position, Summerfield mentioned talking to Anthony Bish in the theatre department for backstage work or Juliet Pokorny if you have interest in working as a stage manager. 

The show will run for two weeks from Feb. 7 to Feb 17 in Person Theater.  Shows start at 7:30 p.m. for most performances, with the exceptions of Feb. 10 at 5 p.m., Feb. 12 at 10 a.m., and Feb. 17 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are free for all students and only cost $10-$17 for other members of the community.

The cast is excited to show the community what they’ve worked on and encourage students to go see it. 

“You should definitely go see it because it’s a great story and a lot of great people putting it together,” cast member Avery Wilson said.