High ticket sales expected for ‘Sweeney Todd’
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 00:11
On Halloween, tickets officially went on sale for the University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Music’s production of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” slated to debut at the end of February. Since the announcement, opening night has nearly sold out.
The play, written by Stephen Sondheim, is often described as a musical thriller that follows a barber’s quest for revenge in 1894 London. The play was made famous by the 2007 Tim Burton film starring Johnny Deep.
There will be four performances of the play beginning Feb. 28 and ending March 2. Marketing & Event Coordinator Mike Lopinto is the director of the play, while Director of the School of Music Michael Miles is the director of the music for the show. J. Taylor Hightower, the undergraduate coordinator for the School of Music, will be playing the lead character, Sweeney Todd.
“We have a lot of talented people on campus,” Lopinto said. “Seeing them come together is stellar and very exciting.”
The play had an open audition in August. Of the 100 applicants, 25 made the final cut. The cast primarily consists of music and theatre majors, but alumni and community members are also involved.
“You can sing it and you can act it, but it’s very demanding to do both,” Lopinto said.
Other members of the “Sweeney Todd” crew are theater professor Stephen Judd and theater supervisor Kelly James-Penot.
Judd teaches scenic design and heads design and technology in the Department of Theatre. He recently began the preliminary designs of the set for the upcoming play.
“Everything has to point to the thrust of the idea,” Judd said.
His methodology includes finding key words to describe the tone, themes and setting of the play, after which he begins finding pictures that go along with the words. Keywords in “Sweeney Todd” include words such as decay and claustrophobia.
Judd said making the set and figuring out the exact tone of the play has a give and take dynamic among all the members of the cast, most importantly the directors and the costume designer, James-Penot.
Even with opening night a few months away, James-Penot has already started the process of designing and constructing the costumes for “Sweeney Todd.” As costume designer for the theatre and dance department, she has worked on several plays, the most recent being USM’s showing of “Lysistrata.”
While there Judd and James-Pento are tasked with keeping the design of the play period correct, they are not afraid to add modern aspects to keep the show interesting.
While the show will not open until late February, Lopinto suggest that those interested buy tickets early.
“We expect it to sell out, especially with so many departments involved,” Lopinto said.