Audiences will be in for a bloody good time this summer, when Palm Beach Dramaworks presents
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
. The musical thriller, with music and lyrics by
and a book by
, opens at the Don & Ann Brown Theatre on July 14 and continues through August 6, with a specially priced preview on July 13.
was the recipient of eight Tony Awards in 1979, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book. This delightfully macabre tale of obsession and revenge is based on Christopher Bond's 1973 play Sweeney Todd, which is a retelling of a British melodrama that dates back to 1847. Banished from England on a trumped-up charge by a corrupt judge who lusted after his wife, Sweeney escapes his confinement 15 years later and manages to return to London. He learns from his old neighbor, Mrs. Lovett, that his wife poisoned herself and that his daughter Johanna is now Judge Turpin's ward. Sweeney sets out in pursuit of the judge, and the plot twists are worthy of Shakespeare. As he goes increasingly mad, no one is safe from his razor. Mrs. Lovett becomes his enterprising cohort, grinding Sweeney's victims into filling for the meat pies she sells at her shop - and turning a nice profit in the process.
The original production of Sweeney Todd, directed by Hal Prince (Tony Award), opened on Broadway on March 1, 1979 and ran for 557 performances. It starred Len Cariou as Sweeney Todd and Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett, both of whom won Tony Awards.
The show is often referred to as Sondheim's masterpiece, and it is among his most popular works. It has been staged countless times: on Broadway, in opera houses, in symphony halls, and in theatres throughout the country. Other memorable New York productions include a 1989 staging at Circle in the Square that starred Bob Gunton as Sweeney Todd and Beth Fowler as Mrs. Lovett, and a 2005 revival that starred Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone, and featured actors doubling as musicians.
"One of the reasons I'm excited to be doing Sweeney Todd, aside from the fact that it's a wonderful work, is because I think it's the kind of musical that will attract younger audiences and a more diverse demographic during the summer months," says William Hayes, PBD producing artistic director.
PBD's production will be directed by Clive Cholerton, and feature scenic design by Michael Amico and costume design by Brian O'Keefe. The rest of the creative team will be announced at a later date, as will the cast.