This month Second Street Players in downtown Milford will present their Fall Musical Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber, by Hugh Wheeler and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim of Fleet Street, at the Riverfront Theatre. The musical will span across three weekends including performances on September 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 and October 3, 4 and 5. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8pm and Sunday performances are at 3pm with a special time for the September 21 performance at 2pm.
Sweeney Todd has found success as a musical stage thriller around the world since being awarded eight Tony Awards, including Best musical for its Broadway premiere. Adapted to film by Tim Burton with Johnny Deep in the title role, Sweeney has slashed his way across entertainment mediums. An infamous tale, Sweeney Todd an unjustly exiled barber, returns to 19th century London seeking vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. The road to revenge leads Todd to Mrs. Lovett, a resourceful proprietress of a failing pie shop, above which he opens a new barber practice. Mrs. Lovelett’s luck sharply shifts when Todd’s thirst for blood inspires the integration of an ingredient into her meat pies that has the people of London lining up, and the carnage has only just begun.
Director Curtis Howard brings this version of Sweeney Tood to the Riverfront Theater with a talented cast and crew that will keep everyone on the edge of their seats. With a cast of 24, Howard is directing his second performance with the Second Street Players. His directorial debut, Anybody Home, came just two years after he joined the theatrical group in 2011 playing the Ghost of Christmas Past in Humbug. Howard admits that directing this musical has been a challenge but also explains that for this reason he has enjoyed his experience with a “seasoned cast.”
“Sweeney Todd is such a unique story, it is a musical, drama, comedy, it has tragedy and multiple love stories,” said Howard. In addition to helping actors on stage, he has been putting time into creating a unique experience for audience members. “I want [the audience] to feel like they are part of the show. As soon as they come through the theatre doors they will be immersed in the experience.”
Steve Givens, a veteran actor of 22 years, will be playing the main role of Sweeney Todd. This will be his third production with Second Street Players, his first being Seussical. A fan of the Sweeney Todd for over 20 years, Givens knew he would audition for the performance as soon as the Second Street Players announced the show as their Fall production. Givens is excited to play the lead role and believes the audience will enjoy the unique performance.
“Sweeney Todd is one of those characters that you can sympathize with even though you know he is a murderer, he is a profoundly sad and profoundly scary character,” commented Givens. “We are telling a story that is unique in so many respects. I want the audience to walk out of the theatre and be taken away and captured by the characters.”
Lorraine Steinhoff, a veteran actor of 12 years and a music teacher at St. Thomas Moore Academy, is playing the lead role of Mrs. Lovett. She admits that she had been a huge fan of the musical for several years and once she listened to the music for the first time, she “could not put it down.” She shared that the uniqueness of the characters and the music is what makes Sweeney Todd come alive by stating “Mrs. Lovett is in one line a happy, daffy character although she is an accomplice to murder,” she said. “I hope the audience leaves loving the show as much as I do. I want the performance to make them want to come back to experience live theatre.”
Sweeney Todd will span across three weekends including performances on September 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 and October 3, 4 and 5 . Friday and Saturday performances are at 8pm, Sunday performances are at 3pm and the special time for the September 21 performance will be at 2pm. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at brownpapaertickets.com or at secondstreetplayers.com. All performances are held at the Riverfront Theater, located at 2 South Walnut Street in downtown Milford.