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Sweeney Todd at Shaw Festival

Sweeney Todd at Shaw Festival

Horror and music blend together splendidly in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - A Musical Thriller. Dark comedy is also used effectively in this tale about greed, injustice and morality that will be staged during the Shaw Festival 2016. You can catch the play at the Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake from July 17 to October 19. Music and lyrics are by Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim who collaborated with book writer Hugh Wheeler for this musical play.

Sweeney Todd Play Summary

The play revolves around Sweeney Todd, a barber by profession who returns to London after several years, along with Anthony Hope a sailor. There are a few other people who find themselves entangled in this terrifying story told with a dash of humour. They include Judge Turpin, a pie-shop owner Mrs Lovett, a beggar woman with a secret and a pretty girl who sings through her barred window. There’s murder, madness and mayhem in this play. The music elevates the play to another level and is used effectively to highlight the story.

Original Story in 1846 & Adapted Numerous Times

The story of Sweeney Todd dates back to 1846 when Edward Lloyd a publisher in London printed a book called The String of Pearls. It was in this book that a character called Sweeney Todd was introduced as a vengeful villain. The character quickly became popular, the story was turned into a play, and several adaptations followed over the years.

The Shaw Festival production is based on an adaptation by Christopher Bond who first staged the play based on Sweeney Todd in 1973 at London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East. When Sondheim saw Bond’s adaptation of the play, he understood the musical possibilities of the same. He envisioned a play that heightened the suspense of the story through music and that’s how the musical came into being. The Sondheim-Wheeler collaboration for Broadway in 1979 was directed by Harold Prince and won eight Tony awards.

Shaw Festival's Production of Sweeney Todd

The Shaw Festival production of Sweeney Todd has been directed by Jackie Maxwell and is recommended for ages 14+. This wonderfully staged play with its theme of crime and revenge is dark yet brilliant in its execution. For the audiences, the play promises to be a scary entertainer, one that will enthral them with its storyline and music.

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