Dare to step into this barber shop on Halloween
SOAP LAKE — Just in time for Halloween comes Sweeney Todd, a musical thriller that is sure to spellbind audiences.
This is the first time Masquers Theatre has taken on Sweeney Todd – and the first time Randy Brooks is directing the musical.
Brooks is no stranger to the theater – or to Quincy. In the 1970s, he started the Quincy Theater, directing Oklahoma, The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof and others. The Quincy Theater then turned into a venture called Quest Theater until Quincy Valley Allied Arts was established in the 1990s.
Inspired by a Masterpiece Theater production of Sweeney Todd, Brooks wanted to bring Sweeney Todd: The Demon of Fleet Street to the community theater. Shows open on Friday.
“It was the least complicated version of Sweeney Todd done on a Black Box Set, which means there is no set. It is all interwoven around the orchestra,” said Brooks. “It’s a terrific set. Originally it was supposed to be a simple set, but it didn’t turn out that way.”
The musical Sweeney Todd originally was adapted from the Victorian era story “The String of Pearls,” about a barber who has an unusual way of dealing with customers.
Clients get a little more than a shave and a haircut at Sweeney Todd’s barber shop. After Sweeny lures unwitting clients into his chair, they meet an unfortunate end by sliding down a secret hatch into the basement.
The Soap Lake cast includes 19 actors. Two actors, Kennadi Hawes (Johanna) and her sister Camryn Hawes (chorus), are from Quincy.
The biggest challenge, Brooks said, is the music. That’s because 75 percent to 80 percent of the show is music.
“The music director and choral director have as much to do as the director,” Brooks said. “The first five weeks was spent learning songs. … It is one of the top three most difficult musicals to do.”
Actor Cheri Barbre plays Mrs. Lovett, the pie-making cohort to Sweeney Todd.
“It is very involved,” Barbre said. “I’ve appreciated the challenge. Mrs. Lovett is the comic foil in the story. She provides lightness in the story.”
Stephanie Moore is the production’s vocal director. Her biggest challenge was to capture the dialogue in the music. Brooks warns the audience must stay on its toes and pay attention or it will miss important moments.
“It is almost an operetta,” Brooks said. “I realized it after I got the script. It is a major musical undertaking.”
Moore is excited to be working on this production, because she is getting the opportunity to see the actors grow musically.
“Everyone here has worked so hard above and beyond,” she said. “Masquers is not afraid to stretch the boundaries. We are fortunate to have Masquers to take that step.”
Sweeney Todd begins Friday and runs to Nov. 15. For tickets and show times, go to www.masquers.com.
— By Tammara Green, QVPR contributor