Great Lakes Theater Social Media Night - Sweeney Todd

Blog Date: 
Wed Oct 9th 2013
Author(s): 

#SweeneyTodd Social Media Night

We were ready for an exciting night of theater on Friday, October 4, 2013, when we were guests of Great Lakes Theater for the opening of one of our favorite shows, Sweeney Todd!

(See details below on how to use promo code PR6 for discount.)

Great Lakes Theater's Sweeney Todd at the Hanna Theatre
Enlarge Photo

It was Social Media Night, and also Director’s Night, where we were able to attend a pre-show discussion with Producing Artistic Director Charles Fee and Sweeney Todd Director Victoria Bussert. We learned lots of interesting behind-the-scenes “tidbits” about the show. For example, this show is considered a masterpiece of Stephen Sondheim, and is a crossover between musical theater and opera, with elements of both. The show has been performed by both musical theater and opera companies.

Pre-show discussion with Producing Artistic Director Charles Fee and Sweeney Todd Director Victoria BussertSweeney Todd Director Victoria Bussert at pre-show discussionSweeney Todd Director Victoria Bussert at pre-show discussionPre-show discussion with Producing Artistic Director Charles Fee and Sweeney Todd Director Victoria Bussert
Click On Photos To Enlarge

Sweeney Todd has some fascinating contrasts: Some of the most beautiful music happens at times of high horror in the show. There is also a lot of black comedy in the show. Theatergoers should definitely pay a lot of attention to the ingenious lyrics! There is not much spoken dialogue, which is where the aspect of opera comes in.

The director’s research for the show included watching a lot of German black and white horror films. Much of the acting style used in this production is based on these films. A “steampunk” style was used as an influence on the set and costumes, which included lots of buckles, hardware, and mechanical bits and pieces. A big thank you to Audience Engagement Manager Chris Fornadel for emailing us the Sweeney Todd costume renderings for the Great Lakes Theater production. Click on the photos to view costumes in larger size.

Sweeney Todd “Steampunk” Style Costumes

Sweeney Todd “Steampunk” Style Costumes

It was interesting to learn that 16 types of “blood” were tested for the show. Only two are actually used, including a “lyrical” (oozing) type and a “comedic” (spurting) type.

The scene changes are choreographed to the music to keep the flow of the story (as well as the blood) going for the audience.

Sweeney Todd was performed over the summer in Boise, Idaho, by Great Lakes Theater’s partner theater company, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. When the director returned to direct the cast again for the Cleveland production, she said that she found the cast had “grown” in their development of the characters. Because the show was produced with the same cast in both partner theaters, and also performed in repertory with Richard III (with mostly the same cast), this provided the Actors’ Equity Association performers with the opportunity to work for 10-11 months, instead of just two months or so with just a single show.

Here is the audio from the pre-show director's night discussion in it's entirety. Stuart was able to ask the first question to the director about the black humor in the show. Hear Stuart's question and the director's response at the 15:54 minute point by clicking on this image.

Click on image for audio

After the pre-show discussion, we were ready to “attend the tale of Sweeney Todd!” The show tells the compelling story of “the demon barber of Fleet Street,” and is filled with Sondheim’s amazing music, devilish humor, and romantic tragedy.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street!

This production of Sweeney Todd is exciting and fast-paced. We have seen this show several times with very strong casts, and noticed some differences in this production, but still enjoyed it very much. Some of the strong points in the show were the performances of Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) and Chris Cowan (as Tobias Ragg), and the great sets, costumes, and lighting. We singled out these particular performances, since they really struck a chord with us, but they were also part of a very strong cast overall. The first time we saw the character of Mrs. Lovett on stage, we were not sure how we felt about her -- we both thought the youthful portrayal was not what we expected. However, this Mrs. Lovett soon grew on us. For example, we liked her nod to Shakespeare with the way she held the skull, and also liked the way she removed the ring from the hand (you have to see it).

Some of the actors did not express the emotional intensity that we have seen in other productions. Their singing was outstanding, but not as edgy as we were used to based on our experience with the show. There was one technical aspect that Stuart felt was not done well, but we will not elaborate, since it would be a spoiler (i.e., Julie did not notice it, but some others in our bloggers group did. It was only a mild distraction.).

All in all, we had a "bloody good time!"

 

View the program online here.

 

Drink Special: Barber's Revenge!The stage for Great Lakes Theater's Sweeney ToddProducing Artistic Director Charles Fee - Great Lakes Theater's Sweeney ToddSweeney ToddHanna Theatre
Click On Photos To Enlarge

 

 

Promo Code: PR6

You can “shave” $10 off each A Level ticket that you purchase by using the Promo Code: PR6 when you order tickets through GreatLakesTheater.org or by calling 216-241-6000.

Great Lakes Theater's Sweeney Todd tickets

Official Video and Photos:

Here are the official video and photos from Great Lakes Theater's production of Sweeney Todd:

 

Click on SWEENEY TODD official photos to enlarge.

Obviously, we could not take photos during the show, so we were pleased that Great Lakes Theater's Audience Engagement Manager Chris Fornadel gave us permission to share with you these official photos from the theater. They will give you a sense of the show, but to really be on the "cutting edge," you need to see the show Sweeney Todd in person.

Tom Ford (as Sweeney Todd) and Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) star in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd"

Actors Tom Ford (as Sweeney Todd) and Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) star in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Tom Ford (as Sweeney Todd) stars in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd"

Actor Tom Ford (as Sweeney Todd) stars in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) stars in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd"

Actor Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) stars in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Mark G. Hawbecker (left, as Adolfo Pirelli) and Alex Syiek (right)

Actors Mark G. Hawbecker (left, as Adolfo Pirelli) and Alex Syiek (right) take center stage in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Tom Ford (left, as Sweeney Todd) dispatches his first victim, actor Mark G. Hawbecker (right, as Adolfo Pirelli)

Actor Tom Ford (left, as Sweeney Todd) dispatches his first victim, actor Mark G. Hawbecker (right, as Adolfo Pirelli) in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

M.A. Taylor (left, as The Beadle) and Darren Matthias (right, as Judge Turpin)

Actors M.A. Taylor (left, as The Beadle) and Darren Matthias (right, as Judge Turpin) take center stage in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Clare Howes Eisentrout (left, as Johanna) and Zach Adkins (right, as Anthony Hope)

Actors Clare Howes Eisentrout (left, as Johanna) and Zach Adkins (right, as Anthony Hope) take center stage in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Clare Howes Eisentrout (left, as Johanna) and Zach Adkins (right, as Anthony Hope)

Actors Clare Howes Eisentrout (left, as Johanna) and Zach Adkins (right, as Anthony Hope) take center stage in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare which runs through November 2. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Darren Matthias (left, as Judge Turpin) and M.A. Taylor (right, as The Beadle)

Actors Darren Matthias (left, as Judge Turpin) and M.A. Taylor (right, as The Beadle) take center stage in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Tom Ford (as Sweeney Todd) and Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett)

Actors Tom Ford (as Sweeney Todd) and Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) star in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Tom Ford (as Sweeney Todd) and Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett)

Actors Tom Ford (as Sweeney Todd) and Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) star in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) stars in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd"

Actor Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) stars in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Tom Ford (left, as Sweeney Todd) dispatches another victim, actor Alex Syiek (right)

Actor Tom Ford (left, as Sweeney Todd) dispatches another victim, actor Alex Syiek (right) in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) and Tom Ford (as Sweeney Todd)

Actors Tom Ford (as Sweeney Todd) and Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) star in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) and Chris Cowan (as Tobias Ragg)

Actors Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) and Chris Cowan (as Tobias Ragg) star in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) and Chris Cowan (as Tobias Ragg)

Actors Sara M. Bruner (as Mrs. Lovett) and Chris Cowan (as Tobias Ragg) star in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Jodi Dominick (as Beggar Woman) and Tom Ford (as Sweeney Todd)

Actors Jodi Dominick (as Beggar Woman) and Tom Ford (as Sweeney Todd) star in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

Final moment in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre

Actors Tom Ford (center, left, as Sweeney Todd) and Sara M. Bruner (center, right, as Mrs. Lovett) are flanked by Zach Adkins (left, as Anthony Hope) and Darren Matthias (right, as Judge Turpin) during a final moment in the Great Lakes Theater production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni @OhioPhoto)

 

These photos ©2013 Great Lakes Theater. All rights reserved.

What Others Are Saying

Cleveland Bloggers attend Sweeney Todd

Read more about Sweeney Todd by reading what these others bloggers who attended wrote:

Other articles:

Tweets and Retweets

Here are Stuart's @sos_jr retweets and retweets about #SweeneyTodd:

Great Lakes Theater's Sweeney Todd at the Hanna Theatre

Disclosure: We were guests of Great Lakes Theater for the show, receiving two play tickets and two drink tickets. We enjoyed the show and wrote this blog to share our experience. We were also guests of the theater on February 22, 2013, for their first social media night, for Blithe Spirit (read our blog post here).

We also attended the "Director's Night" preshow discussion, which is open to all who attend a show at Great Lakes Theater. We highly recommend that people attend these "Enhance Your Visit" events.

 

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