Lake Michigan College’s Visual & Performing Arts Department presents its Spring musical production, “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, Friday, April 8, and Saturday, April 9 on The Mendel Center Mainstage, 1100 Yore Ave., on the Benton Harbor campus.
The dark, Tony Award-winner for Best Musical by Stephen Sondheim centers on the title character, whose real name is Benjamin Barker. After being wrongfully sentenced to life in prison by corrupt Judge Turpin, Barker uses his new alias, Sweeney Todd, to resume work in his barbershop above Mrs. Lovett’s struggling pie shop. Swearing vengeance against the judge, he and Lovett plot a plan that leads them down a dangerous path with deadly consequences.
“Sweeney Todd is perhaps the finest of Sondheim’s work if indeed his most complex,” LMC Theatre Coordinator and Stage Director Paul Mow said. “This cast and crew are made up entirely of LMC students, local performers, and designers, who have worked tirelessly on top of their already innate talents and abilities to pull off this behemoth of a stage spectacle. It has been a true pleasure and life goal of mine to work on this beautiful musical standard and piece of American musical theatre.”
The musical, an adaptation of Christopher Bond’s 1973 play of the same name, features music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler. “Sweeney Todd” opened on Broadway in 1979 and the West End in 1980. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical and Olivier Award for Best New Musical. It has since had numerous revivals as well as a film adaptation.
LMC’s production features a cast of 24 student and community performers under Mow’s stage direction and LMC Part-Time Faculty member Danny Lopez’s musical direction.
Leading the cast are Dan Maxon (Sweeney Todd/Benjamin Barker), Meghan Pelkey (Nellie Lovett), Sam Garrison (Anthony Hope), Genevieve Deschaine (Johanna Barker), Jakob Prillwitz (Judge Turpin), Jonathan Clough (Tobias Ragg), Eric Thiele (Beadle Bamford), Meggie Anderson (Beggar Woman), and Brady West (Adolfo Pirelli).
Rounding out the cast are ensemble members Einra Baker, Shay Beeson, Matthew Bizoe, Joanna Blue, Catie Hernandez, DJ Jones, Emilie Kurtz, Terra Lenox, Laura Martin, Kyle McAndrew, Shannon Mitchell, Mason Rasmussen, Joel Smiedendorf, Beth Ward, and Jake Zapor.
Lopez, meanwhile, will lead an orchestra that includes Sara Churchill (violin), Maggie Nowicki (violin), Morgan Sleeper (cello), Donald Brittain (bass), Emily Mikel-Rowe (clarinet), Paul Goodman (bassoon), Adam Karnik (trumpet), Katie Hosey (French horn), Marc Churchill (percussion), and Jeremy Lane (percussion).
They will perform memorable numbers such as “Pretty Women,” A Little Priest,” “Worst Pies in London,” “Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir,” “Green Finch and Linnet Bird,” “Johanna,” “Not While I’m Around” and more!
“Sondheim has truly captured a thrilling time for both the performers and audience,” Lopez said. “I find something new in the score each time I read it.”
In addition to Mow and Lopez, the technical crew includes Susan Salas Graham (assistant director), Carrie VanDenburgh, Jim Kraus (chorus masters), Brooke Hare (stage manager), Julie Smiy (costume designer), Lari Lawrence-Gist (choreographer), and Pat King (producing director/LMC theatre faculty).
Tickets are $18, $12 for senior citizens, and free for all students, LMC faculty, and staff. The musical may not be suitable for younger audiences.
To purchase tickets, visit themendelcenter.org or call the box office at 269-927-8700.
For more information, call 269-927-8876 or visit lakemichigancollege.edu/arts.
“Sweeney Todd” is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.