Photograph by Arran Hashim

“Sweeney Todd” hosts dinner party at theatre

By Mado Hayes

The Lewis & Clark Theatre and Music Departments will be presenting a collaborative production of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” a twisted musical that has interesting connections to the issues being faced in today’s society. The show will open on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. in Fir Acres Theatre. The production is directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Rebecca Lingafelter. The show will be performed “in the round” and feature a live orchestra conducted by Lance Inouye, Assistant Professor of Music.

The play tells the story of Sweeney Todd, a London barber who is wrongfully sent away to prison by Judge Turpin, an evil judge who wants to steal Todd’s life and lure away his wife. Todd returns after 15 years and meets Mrs. Lovett, the owner of a meat-pie shop below his barbershop. She tells him that Turpin sexually assaulted his wife, causing her to go mad and poison herself, so Todd decides to take revenge on Turpin. This leads him down a path of insanity and the two of them form a murderous partnership, where Todd kills his barbershop clients and Mrs. Lovett bakes them into pies. There are various other subplots that come together to create a complex narrative filled with dark humor.

Lingafelter said that she was interested in the ways in which the world of the play resonates with today’s culture, in terms of both the socioeconomic inequities and the deep questioning of the patriarchy and rape culture.

“Ultimately, it’s about a world in which injustice and inequity have grown to such a point that no one can behave in a good way,” Lingafelter said. “Morality has been thrown out the window.”

One unusual aspect of the show is that it will be performed “in the round,” which is a particular type of staging that puts the audience in the middle of the action. Scenographer and Associate Professor of Theatre Michael Olich,  said that he and Lingafelter wanted to make the main stage feel like the black box theater.

“There’s no pretend sense of illusion in the space,” Olich said. “It’s all just a bare open stage that we can bring the world of the story into.”

There will also be a live orchestra performing on stage which will be visible to the audience, rather than hidden offstage or beneath the stage. Lingafelter said that all of these staging decisions are part of an experiential approach.

“I’m always interested in awakening audiences to things that they take for granted in the theater,” Lingafelter said. “My hope is that you’ll feel like you’re really a part of the world.”

The musical aspect of the production adds another layer of complexity and difficulty. The LC Theatre Department puts on a mainstage show every semester, but a musical is only chosen every four years, which means that every class will only get to see or be involved with one musical. Liam Beveridge ’20, who plays the role of Sweeney Todd, said that this is his first experience doing a musical production.

“It gives me a lot more respect for everyone who can do musicals because it’s really challenging,” Beveridge said. “It’s been a lot more focused on the technical elements of music than other productions I’ve been in where we’re just focused on the acting.”

Musical Director Susan McBerry has been working with the cast members individually on their singing technique.

“This group of people have really loved working together,” McBerry said. “Even though it’s difficult, that makes it really delightful.”

Lingafelter said that the cast has put a lot of hard work into this production.

“I think that’s something for the community to be excited about,” Lingafelter said. “Come and celebrate the talent of the students and their hard work.” “It gives me a lot more respect for everyone who can do musicals because it’s really challenging,” Beveridge said. “It’s been a lot more focused on the technical elements of music than other productions I’ve been in where we’re just focused on the acting.”

Musical Director Susan McBerry has been working with the cast members individually on their singing technique.

“This group of people have really loved working together,” McBerry said. “Even though it’s difficult, that makes it really delightful.”

Lingafelter said that the cast has put a lot of hard work into this production.

“I think that’s something for the community to be excited about,” Lingafelter said. “Come and celebrate the talent of the students and their hard work.”

“It gives me a lot more respect for everyone who can do musicals because it’s really challenging,” Beveridge said. “It’s been a lot more focused on the technical elements of music than other productions I’ve been in where we’re just focused on the acting.”

Musical Director Susan McBerry has been working with the cast members individually on their singing technique.

“This group of people have really loved working together,” McBerry said. “Even though it’s difficult, that makes it really delightful.”

Lingafelter said that the cast has put a lot of hard work into this production.

“I think that’s something for the community to be excited about,” Lingafelter said. “Come and celebrate the talent of the students and their hard work.”

“It gives me a lot more respect for everyone who can do musicals because it’s really challenging,” Beveridge said. “It’s been a lot more focused on the technical elements of music than other productions I’ve been in where we’re just focused on the acting.”

Musical Director Susan McBerry has been working with the cast members individually on their singing technique.

“This group of people have really loved working together,” McBerry said. “Even though it’s difficult, that makes it really delightful.”

Lingafelter said that the cast has put a lot of hard work into this production.

“I think that’s something for the community to be excited about,” Lingafelter said. “Come and celebrate the talent of the students and their hard work.”

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