The play’s subject matter, however, is hardly the only challenge in bringing it to the stage.
“It’s an ambitious play,” Gault said. “The music’s very difficult. There are multiple songs, with different characters singing different scenes.”
Gault credited the production’s musical director – SDHS English Teacher Pam Smiley – with helping make the show’s complicated musical numbers run as smoothly as possible.
“We have such a small stage at SDHS, too,” Gault added. “We’ve had to alter some of the scenery because of that. The Barber Shop is supposed to be on top of the Pie Shop, for example, but that’s not possible with an eight-foot-high stage. Just holding a show this expansive in a cafetorium instead of an auditorium is a challenge.”
“Sweeney Todd” revolves around the eponymous character of the title, a man wrongly accused and exiled for a crime he didn’t commit. He returns many years later under an alias, his appearance greatly altered, to seek revenge on those who wronged him, including the corrupt judge who coveted Todd’s wife. Todd’s new barber shop becomes a death chamber, used for both vengeance on Todd’s enemies and as a place to commit “warm-up murders” on people who get in the way of his plans.
“This is a dark play,” Gault said. “It’s a musical thriller. We see the murders on stage, but no blood. The audience sees a straight razor slashed across the victim’s throat, but then the scene immediately blacks out.”
She continued, “Caleb Newlin plays Sweeney Todd and Shelby Sparkman plays Mrs. Lovett. They both worked really hard and both are very, very good at their roles. They’re the ones who talked me into doing this play. They had lines memorized before we even started. But all the kids in this show are very good.”