From Broadway to high school theatre productions to a feature film starring Johnny Depp, the musical “Sweeney Todd” has taken on many different forms. At Miami, the student theatre group Stage Left will perform the musical on Thursday night.
“It’s a tale that blends Victorian penny dreadfuls with Jacobean tragedy and some of the most difficult and delightful music I’ve ever encountered,” said director Jane Medoro, a senior at Miami. “Really, there is something for everyone.”
The musical centers on the title character, a madman barber who had been persecuted for a crime that he did not commit many years ago. Once released from prison, he seeks revenge on Judge Turpin, the man who had incarcerated him. Todd operates a barber shop, slitting the necks of his customers and sending the victims to Mrs. Lovett downstairs, who bakes them into her pies. He patiently awaits the day Turpin will come in for a shave.
Although the plot may seem gruesome to some, the show combines the dark themes with humor and music for a truly dynamic show.
“It’s incredibly dark,” says Olivia Semsel, assistant director of the show. “But it gives the audience plenty of chances to laugh, too. It is a memorable story that has something for everyone — a little romance, a little drama and a lot of horror.”
The musical was initially composed by prolific composer, Stephen Sondheim. His other notable contributions include works such as “Into the Woods,” “West Side Story” and “Merrily We Roll Along.”
“It is quite a terrifying tale that is sure to leave your jaw on the floor until the very end,” said Elizabeth Kehling, who plays the part of the beggar woman. “I think audiences really enjoy ‘Sweeney’ because of the classic Sondheim composition as well as the shocking story.”
For Stage Left, the ability to put on such a famous, acclaimed show has presented challenges. Much of the music in “Sweeney Todd” is complex and different from more traditional musicals.
“I’m just so pleased that my cast was able to rise to the occasion and tackle this layered and technically difficult show,” said Modero. “The entire production team has come together so well that, while I am nervous for opening, I can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve put together.”
Stage Left will perform “Sweeney Todd” at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 20, in Wilks Theater.