Fancy a Shave? Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Sets up Shop at HRTC

HRTC_SweeneyTodd promo1

Rebecca Watson as Mrs. Lovett and Jamie Cordes as Sweeney Todd. Photo by Scott J. Kimmins.

Tony Award-winning tale of madness, murder and meat pies opens The Race’s 30th Anniversary Season, September 8 – October 2, 2016 at the Loft Theatre

(Dayton, OH) — The Human Race proudly kicks off  its 2016-2017 Eichelberger Loft Season with the smash hit Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – A Musical Thriller. Created by the Tony Award winning team by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and Hugh Wheeler (book) and based on an adaptation by Christopher Bond, this masterpiece of suspense invites audiences to attend the tale of Sweeney Todd. A barber unjustly imprisoned by corrupt Judge Turpin, Sweeney returns to 19th century London after fifteen years to take his revenge on the man who took him from his wife and young daughter. Todd’s need for vengeance becomes indiscriminately murderous—and profitable—when he partners with the unscrupulous Mrs. Lovett and opens his new barber practice above her failing meat pie shop. With his busy straight razors and her new secret ingredient, their fame grows until Todd comes face to face with the judge. Can he avenge his family before their dastardly deeds are uncovered?

The Human Race Theatre Company’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – A Musical Thriller is directed by Human Race Resident Artist Scott Stoney, who also directed Master Class; Crowns and Caroline, or Change in the Loft Theatre. Resident Artist Sean Michael Flowers (HRTC’s Avenue Q and The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical) is the production’s music director and conducts its eight-member band. Tracey Bonner, a recent Kentucky Arts Council Al Smith Artistic Fellow, is the choreographer.

The preview performance of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – A Musical Thriller is Thursday, September 8. Opening night is Friday, September 9. This production contains adult situations and stage violence and may not be suitable for all audiences.

The Human Race Theatre mounted a very popular production of Sweeney Todd in 1996 at the Victoria Theatre, and company President & Artistic Director Kevin Moore has been long planning a return to Fleet Street, this time on the thrust stage of the 212-seat Loft Theatre. “Sweeney is a big show, typically staged in large, proscenium theatre spaces. And in that kind of setting, the audience is safe in their seats out in the house while these terrifying—and sometimes comic—acts are happening at a distance on the stage.” But Moore believes the audience misses much of the point in that environment. “This is a story about revenge, and revenge is personal and is usually not fully appreciated unless it’s witnessed up close. That’s why we’re so excited to tell Sweeney’s tale in the Loft. That distance between action and audience is gone. The revenge is intimate for everyone. Our actors will be performing some pretty dastardly deeds right in front of the audience, and in several scenes, around and even behind them.”

Knowing that this story of murder and meat pies is only as good as its story teller, Moore selected a director with a long and personal history with Sweeney Todd. Scott Stoney was already a die-hard Sondheim fan in 1979 when he bought the cast album of a recently-opened Broadway production about a vengeful barber and immoral pie shop owner, and memorized every note, lyric and nuance. Stoney recalls his first time seeing the show that same year, “I took a trip to New York City with my best friend, Marsha Hanna. We sat in the 8th row of the orchestra with mouths open for the duration—one of those life-changing moments for both of us. I knew I was meant to perform that role.” In 1983, he got his chance when Wright State University put the musical on their theatre season and offered him a guest professional contract to star as Sweeney. “I remember coming in to the first rehearsal with all the music learned. Thanks to that album, I had already sung the score hundreds of times with Broadway’s original Sweeney, Len Cariou!” Lightning struck twice thirteen years later when Marsha Hanna, then Artistic Director of The Human Race, tapped Stoney to pick up the straight razors again for the 1996 production at the Victoria Theatre. Twenty years have since passed, and while Stoney admits it’s bittersweet to hand those razors over to another actor, he’s delighted to be able to lead this new telling for a theatre company he’s called home for three decades.

CAST AND DESIGN TEAM
The Human Race’s 2016 production features the talents of 17 gifted musical theatre actors from the Miami Valley area and across the country. Leading the cast in the title role of “Sweeney Todd” is Human Race Resident Artist Jamie Cordes (HRTC’s The Full Monty, Mame and Next to Normal). Wooster, Ohio, native Rebecca Watson (By Jeeves on Broadway) returns to the Buckeye State to play “Mrs. Lovett.” Cincinnatian Zack Steele (HRTC’s Mame and It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play) is back for his second Loft Theatre musical as the young sailor, “Anthony Hope.” University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music alumnus DJ Plunkett is “Tobias Ragg.” David McDonald (Side Show, Memphis and Doctor Zhivago on Broadway) plays the cruel “Judge Turpin.” Kimberly Hessler makes her first appearance with The Human Race as the judge’s ward, “Johanna.” Actor/director/writer Aaron Vega (HRTC’s Other Desert Cities, Lend Me a Tenor and Was) is “The Beadle.” Los Angeles-based actor/musician Craig McEldowney is “Adolfo Pirelli.” Christine Zavakos (HRTC’s Fiddler on the Roof) plays the “Beggar Woman.”

Other cast members in the ensemble include: Resident Artist Scott Hunt (HRTC’s The Glass Menagerie and Big River, Rent and Les Misérables on Broadway) as “Jonas Fogg;” Carlisle, Ohio, native David Shough as the “Bird Seller;” Nathan Robert Pecchia as the “Passerby;” Gina Handy (HRTC’s The Full Monty, Parallel Lives at Magnolia Theatre Company); Drew Helton (HRTC’s Fiddler on the Roof and workshop of The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes); Cassi Mikat (HRTC’s Master Class and It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play); Sherri L. Sutter (HRTC’s Mame and workshop of Molly Sweeney); and Kandis Wean (HRTC’s workshops of The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes and Love Makes the World Go Round).

Cordes, Hunt and Sutter all appeared in The Human Race’s 1996 production of Sweeney Todd at the Victoria Theatre. Cordes played the young sailor “Anthony Hope.” Sutter was “Johanna,” his love interest. Hunt portrayed Mrs. Lovett’s assistant, “Tobias.”

The current production’s cast contains a number of connections with Wright State University’s Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures. Cordes and Sutter are instructors there. Helton, Mikat, Steele and Vega are alumni (as are production stage manager Kristin A. Sutter and assistant stage manager Preston D. McCarthy), and Pecchia is a current student.

Scenic designer Dan Gray (Taking Shakespeare; Caroline, or Change) takes on the challenge of setting this large show into the intimate Loft Theatre. Costume designer Janet G. Powell (One Slight Hitch; The Full Monty) clothes each of the actors in mid 18th century English attire. Resident Artists John Rensel (lighting designer) and Jay Brunner (sound designer) round out the design team.

Biographies on the cast and creative team can be found on The Human Race Theatre Company’s website.

The Human Race Theatre Company’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – A Musical Thriller is sponsored by the Schiewetz Foundation, Dr. Robert L. Brandt, Jr., M.D, Gosiger, Matthew J. Scarr, CPA LLC and Larry S. Glickler—Glickler Funeral Home.

Performance and special event information
Tickets for the preview performance of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – A Musical Thriller on September 8 start at $35 for adults, $32 for seniors and $17.50 for students. For all performances September 9  – October 2, single ticket prices start at $40 for adults, $37 for seniors and $20 for students. Prices vary depending on the day of the week and seating location. Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more. The Human Race is offering a pair of discount ticket opportunities. A limited number of $12 and $25 side-area seats are available in advance for all performances. The Sunday, September 11 7:00 p.m. performance is “Sawbuck Sunday,” when any available seat can be purchased in person for just $10 at the Loft Theatre box office two hours prior to the show. Discounts are subject to availability and some restrictions apply.

All performances are at the Metropolitan Art Center’s Loft Theatre, located at 126 North Main Street in downtown Dayton, Ohio. Show times for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – A Musical Thriller are 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Performances on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings begin at 7:00 p.m., and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday matinees.

Tickets and performance information on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – A Musical Thriller are available at http://www.humanracetheatre.org or by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630, and at the Schuster Center box office.

# # #

Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, The Human Race Theatre Company was founded in 1986 and moved into the Metropolitan Arts Center in 1991, taking up residence at the 212-seat Loft Theatre. In addition to the Eichelberger Loft Season, The Human Race produces new works development and special event programming. Under the direction of President and Artistic Director Kevin Moore, the company also maintains education and outreach programs for children, teens and adults, as well as artist residencies in area schools, an In-School Tour, and a summer youth program. Human Race organizational support is provided by Culture Works, the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District, the Shubert Foundation, the Erma R. Catterton Trust Fund, the Jesse & Caryl Philips Foundation, the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council, which helped fund this organization with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The 2016-2017 Sustainability Sponsors are the ELM Foundation, Anne F. Johnson, Steve and Lou Mason, and Morris Home Furnishings. The 2016-2017 Loft season sponsor is the Jack W. and Sally D. Eichelberger Foundation of the Dayton Foundation, with additional support from Premier Health.

 

 

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