UF stages Sondheim's 'Sweeney Todd' musical

Published: October 24 2014


GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- The University of Florida School of Theatre + Dance presents "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" Oct. 24 through Nov. 2 at the Constans Theatre located in the Nadine McGuire Theatre and Dance Pavilion on UF’s campus.

Direction and musical staging are by School of Theatre + Dance professor Tony Mata, and musical direction is provided by School of Music associate professor Anthony Offerle. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24-25 and Oct. 28-Nov. 1, and at 2 p.m. Oct. 26 and Nov. 2. Guests are invited to come in costume for the Halloween performance on Oct. 31 and stay after the performance for a costume contest and photos with some members of the cast.

Set in 19th-century London, this musical tells the story of ousted barber Benjamin Barker, also known as Sweeney Todd, and his revenge on the scheming judge who exiled him for 15 years. When the bloodthirsty Sweeney joins forces with the failing pie shop proprietress Mrs. Lovett, the two introduce a new, carnal ingredient to Lovett’s meat pies that sends the people of London straight to the shop — and new victims to Sweeney’s barber chair.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler, the show has become a musical theater staple since its Broadway premiere at the Uris Theatre in 1979, directed by Harold Prince. The original Broadway production starred Len Cariou as Sweeney Todd and Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett and won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The show has been remounted multiple times, including a Tony Award-winning Broadway production in 2005 starring Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone. The most recent London revival in 2012 featured Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton in the leading roles.

Sondheim is a name synonymous with musical theater, as he has written the music and lyrics for a number of quintessential, award-winning works, including "Company" and "Into the Woods." Wheeler was an American playwright and librettist who is noted for both his work with Sondheim and a series of mystery novels and short stories. The duo also collaborated on 1973’s "A Little Night Music."

“Our Sweeney Todd offers a different twist on a familiar story,” Mata said. “Audience members can expect a version that is more contemporary than most. The production contains a solid balance of both contemporary and Victorian aspects.”

The cast includes Grace Abele, Rachel Beal, Brittany Bennett, Chelsea Brinda, Rachael Cain, Bradley Cloversette, Jason Collins, Daniel DiCola, Sergio de la Espriella, Brandon Good, Daniel Gray, Sami Gresham, Brooke Heffernan, David Leppert, Jake Lesh, Emily Lewis, Tony Lupi, Chaz May, Orlando Mendez, Thomas Nightingale, Ariel Reich, Yael Reich, Christie Robinson, Lauren Robinson, Hunter Rothstein, Matthew Ruff, Erica Scaglione, Dean Thomason, Kasie Wagner, Daniel Womack, Jamey Wright and Sydney Zaruba.

Tickets are $17 for the general public, and are $13 for students, UF faculty/staff and senior citizens. Group rates are available for parties of eight or more. Tickets are available through the University Box Office located at Gate 1 of the O'Connell Center, by calling 352-392-1653 or at ticketmaster.com. The University Box Office is open noon to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Tickets can also be purchased at the Constans Theatre Box Office starting 45 minutes prior to the performance.

The Nadine McGuire Theatre and Dance Pavilion is located at 687 McCarty Drive, Gainesville. Parking is available across the street from the UF Bookstore & Welcome Center on the University of Florida located on Museum Road.