This Friday (Jan. 29th) the Actor's Theatre of Indiana will bring to the stage Sweeney Todd, the winner of eight Tony Awards -- 11 if you count revivals.
The musical takes place in 18th-century England, when Sweeney Todd returns to London following 15 years of exile. There he opens a new barbershop above Mrs. Lovett’s failing pie shop.
Lovett desperately needs "fresh meat" for her pies. Todd needs a place to send away his unfortunate "customers." The unlikely pair soon realizes they each have what the other person needs to succeed.
Todd's handiwork with a straight razor turns even more sinister (or resourceful, depending on how you look at it) when he deposits his victims down a chute that leads to Mrs. Lovett's basement. There she turns his acts of vengeance into a toothsome profit.
John Collins (left), a junior at Herron High School, plays Anthony Hope in Actor’s Theatre of Indiana’s production of “Sweeney Todd” that premieres this Friday.
Don Farrell, ATI’s cofounder and artistic director, plays Todd who seeks the ultimate revenge against the corrupt judge who framed him, took away his family and had him banished.
This play is a bit of a departure from ATI’s traditional musical theater fare of love songs, show-stopping tap numbers and heartwarming plots.
“Sweeney Todd has some of these elements (humor and love songs), but it is a show filled with mature content, probably deserving an ‘R’ rating if we were to borrow from the MPAA rating system,” says Farrell. “Now there isn't any nudity, nor a lot of coarse language, but the bulk of it is attributed to the basic subject matter of murder, the wrong doings of other characters, and the result of what Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd decide to do with those who have succumbed to Sweeney's razor.”
It’s a show that has been on ATI’s “wish list” for many years. The right production team and cast have been assembled to pull off this popular Stephen Sondheim musical, with Johnna Tavianini, assistant professor of Musical Theatre-Voice at Ball State University, serving as the musical director.
“This is perhaps the most brilliant piece of musical theater ever written,” says Farrell. “It is by no means a conventional musical. It takes several forms of music and theater and artfully places them together. This show has so much complexity and so many layers to delve into that it is a true dream for any actor, artisan, musician, director or designer to be a part of.”
Although Sweeney Todd takes a wild walk onto the dark side, Farrell wants to assure ATI’s loyal patrons that they’re in for one “heck of a ride.”
When: Jan. 29 through Feb. 14. (ATI’s “Talk Back” series, featuring the cast of “Sweeney Todd,” will immediately follow the Feb. 7 performance.)
Where: The Studio Theater at the Center for the Performing Arts, 4 Center Green, Carmel.
Price: $20 to $43.
Info: (317) 843-3800, www.atistage.org