Skylight Music Theatre Presents

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Sondheim’s Tony Award-Winning Broadway Musical Thriller

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

 Matthew Ozawa Directs this Chilling Tale of Crime and Dark Humor

Performances May 19 through June 11

Milwaukee, Wis. (April 13, 2017) – Skylight Music Theatre closes the 2016-17 season with Stephen Sondheim’s Tony-Award winning Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The musical thriller runs Friday, May 19 through Sunday, June 11, 2017 in the Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway, Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee.

 

Winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score, Sweeney Todd is a haunting, heart-stopping tale of culinary crime and chilling, dark humor. Sondheim called the musical a “black operetta.”

 

The story follows Sweeney Todd, a broken barber whose life and family were stolen from him when he was wrongfully imprisoned by a cunning, corrupt judge. Recently returned to London and looking to exact a bloody revenge, Todd forges a cut-throat alliance with the lonely and enterprising Mrs. Lovett and her unsavory pies.

“Sweeney Todd” Considered One of Sondheim’s Masterpieces

Sweeney Todd has music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler. It opened on Broadway in 1979 and was adapted into an award-winning 2007 film directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd.

 

Sweeney Todd is one of Sondheim’s masterpieces. It combines the bloody thrills of a classic penny dreadful with sharp, witty lyrics and thrilling music. It is a revenge tragedy that is indeed grisly and bloody, but it is also remarkably funny and poetic,” said Skylight Music Theatre Artistic Director Ray Jivoff.

 

“It is one of the great works of American music theatre and one of Sondheim’s best known and most popular musicals. That is one reason we are bringing it back to Skylight Music Theatre for the third time, with previous productions in 1987 and 1997,” Jivoff said.

Matthew Ozawa to Direct this “Roller Coaster of a Ride”

Returning to Skylight is international director Matthew Ozawa, who directed the world premiere of Snow Dragon (2015). He described Sweeney Todd “as both a tragedy and comedy – a roller coaster of a ride.”

 

Ozawa, who has also worked with Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera and Houston Grand Opera, among others, explained that “Sweeney Todd explores some fascinating and dark ideas – ‘How far would someone go for revenge?’ ‘What drives someone to kill?’ ‘What choices lead someone to become mad?’ These are topics that continue to engage us, whether in a horror flick or a TV show like Dexter. The brilliance of Sondheim is that he has managed to combine gruesome horror and dark humor into this epic, sweeping piece of music theatre.”

Music Director and Conductor Benjamin Makino in Skylight Debut

Making his Skylight debut as music director is Benjamin Makino, who is music director at Opera Memphis and has worked with the Long Beach Opera and Washington National Opera. Makino will also conduct the nine-piece Sweeney Todd orchestra.

Cast of 19 Led by Andrew Varela and Christina Hall

The cast of 19 features Andrew Varela as Sweeney Todd and Christina Hall as Mrs. Lovett. Varela, who was on Broadway as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera, was last seen at Skylight as the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance. Hall, who is making her Skylight debut, is a Chicago-based Jeff Award winner who has worked with the Goodman Theatre and Porchlight Music Theatre.

 

Sweeney Todd:

Music and Lyrics by multi-Tony Award winner Stephen Sondheim (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods)

Book by Hugh Wheeler (Tony Award winner for A Little Night Music and Candide)

From an Adaption by Christopher Bond

Originally Directed on Broadway by Harold Prince

 

Awards:

Eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score; multiple Tony Awards and nominations for Broadway revivals. Nine Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical, Book, Lyrics and Music; multiple Drama Desk Awards and nominations for Broadway revivals.

 

Sweeney Todd production team and cast:

 

Production Team

Stage Director …………………………………….. Matthew Ozawa

Music Director & Conductor………………… Benjamin Makino

Scenic Designer………………………….. Charles Murdock Lucas

Costume Designer…………………………………… Jason Orlenko

Lighting Designer…………………………………………. Jason Fassl

Sound Designer…………………………………. Megan Henninger

Choreographer……………………………………. Ryan Cappleman

Assistant Director…………………………………… Colleen Brooks

Assistant Music Director …………………….. Anne Van Deusen

Dialect Coach…………………………………… Raeleen McMillion

Production Stage Manager………………….. Daniel J. Hanson*

Cast

Sweeney Todd……………………………………… Andrew Varela*

Mrs. Lovett…………………………………………….. Christina Hall*

Anthony Hope………………………………………… Lucas Pastrana

Johanna………………………………………………………… Kelly Britt

Tobias…………………………………………………… Ryan Stajmiger

Judge…………………………………………………… Randall Dodge*

Beadle…………………………………………………………. Ben Tajnai

Beggar……………………………………………………. Niffer Clarke*

Pirelli……………………………………………….. Robert A. Goderich

Ensemble:

Doug Clemons, Lydia Eiche, Carrie Gray, Amara Haaksman, Allison Hull, Rick Pendzich, Samantha Sostarich,

Brett Sweeney, Dan Tellez, Matthew Zeman

* Member of Actors’ Equity Association

Biographies – Directors:

 

Matthew Ozawa (Director) has an international career spanning all artistic disciplines having worked for companies worldwide including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Canadian Opera Company, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, the Macau International Festival, and Opera Siam. Recent directing credits include: Don Quichotte and Nabucco (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Hand Eye (world premiere, Eighth Blackbird / Carnegie Hall / MCA), Romeo & Juliet (Minnesota Opera), L’Opera Seria and Les mamelles de Tirésias / Le Pauvre Matelot (Wolf Trap Opera), and David Hanlon’s After The Storm (world premiere, Houston Grand Opera).

 

Benjamin Makino (Music Director & Conductor) is the Music Director at Opera Memphis. Previously he was Assistant Conductor at the Long Beach Opera where he conducted that company’s highly praised productions of David Lang’s The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, Michael Nyman’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Michael Gordon’s Van Gogh. He also led the U.S. professional premiere of Ernest Bloch’s Macbeth at the Los Angeles harbor. Makino was selected by Director Plácido Domingo to be part of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program of the Washington National Opera. He made his main stage debut with that company conducting Hansel and Gretel at the historic Lincoln Theater.

 

Biographies – Lead Actors:

 

Andrew Varela (Sweeney Todd) has appeared at Skylight previously as The Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance; Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz and Javert in Les Miserables. Broadway and national tour performances include: Jean Valjean in Les Miserables; The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera; Javert in the 25th Anniversary Tour of Les Miserables; Professor Bhaer in Little Women; King David; CATS and Sunday in the Park with George. On TV, Varela was seen recently in Chicago Justice, and in numerous commercials for Steinhafels and others.

 

Christina Hall (Mrs. Lovett) is a Houston native, a graduate of Southern Methodist University, and a Jeff Award winner who has been performing in Chicago for the past 10 years. She has worked with numerous “storefront” theatres such as Interrobang Theatre Project, Strawdog, Lifeline, Theo Ubique, and Theater Wit, as well as Equity houses at Porchlight Music Theatre, The Mercury, Chicago Shakes, The Goodman Theatre (most recently in Mary Zimmerman’s Wonderful Town) and was Ursula in The Little Mermaid at Paramount Theater in Aurora.

 

Performance Information

Performances of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street are Friday, May 19 through Saturday, June 11 in the Cabot Theatre, 158 N. Broadway, in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee.

Sweeney Todd is suitable for audiences ages 12 and up.

Tickets & Box Office

Tickets are $25 – $75 (plus tax and fees) and can be purchased in person at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway or by calling (414) 291-7800, Monday – Saturday, from noon – 6 p.m. The Box Office window is open two hours prior to each performance. Tickets may be purchased online at www.skylightmusictheatre.org.

For ticket discounts and more information sign up for Skylight’s email newsletter at www.skylightmusictheatre.org or call the Box Office (414) 291-7800.

Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more. Email MorganH@skylightmusictheatre.org or call (414) 299-4964.

Special Events

Skylight Insights. In-depth discussions with directors and special guests take place one hour before every Wednesday and Sunday performance.

Skylight BeOut. A preshow celebration and tickets for LGBTQ members and supporters takes place Thursday, May 25 at 6 p.m.

For more information visit www.skylightmusictheatre.org, email info@skylightmusictheatre.org or call the Box Office at (414) 291-7800.

Skylight Bar & Bistro

The Skylight Bar & Bistro is located on the second floor of The Broadway Theatre Center. It is open two hours before each performance in the Cabot Theatre and features gourmet dining and fine wine by Indulge Wine Room. Reservations for full table service in Skylight Bar & Bistro can be made in advance by calling (414) 291-3773, at www.skylightmusictheatre.org/bistro or email Skylight@getindulge.com. Counter service is available without reservations.

 

About Skylight Music Theatre

Skylight Music Theatre’s mission since 1959: To bring the full spectrum of music theatre works to a wide and diverse audience in celebration of the musical and theatrical arts and their reflection of the human condition. Skylight presents productions “Skylight Style” – bringing fresh approaches or interesting twists to music theatre works, creating meaningful connections, not only between the characters on stage but with the audience as well. The beautiful, intimate Cabot Theatre allows audiences to feel close to the powerful emotions on stage.

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