Audiences at the September 15 performance of Sweeney Todd attended a different kind of tale. Last night at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, technical difficulties threatened to cancel the evening's performance of Sweeney Todd. According to social media posts, the company quickly adjusted to present a 40-minute concert version of the show.
Shortly after the show was about to begin, director Thomas Kail came out and addressed the audience: "The cast is ready to go," he announced. "This is as fearless and intrepid a group as possible. At 7:08, when you were all very patiently waiting outside, we said to them, 'Hey, remember how we thought we were doing a show? What if...' and they all said, 'Let's go, let's go, let's go.'"
According to an audience member, the interruption was due to failed hydraulics that are essential for the Sweeney Todd set to run safely. Patrons received full refunds, plus the abridged concert staging, which included approximately half of act one (up to after "The Contest"). The concert had minimal props (including a razor), with the cast sitting on chairs or standing. It was led by Nicholas Christopher as Sweeney Todd (usual lead Josh Groban is currently out on vacation), and Annaleigh Ashford as Mrs. Lovett.
Raymond J. Lee, who played Pirelli at last night's performance, confirmed that it was a set malfunction, posting on social media: "The amazing magic of live theatre is seeing the cast and everyone backstage coming together to roll with the punches. ‘Twas a magical night on Fleet Street tonight."
The 2023 revival of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opened on Broadway March 26. The production stars Tony nominee Josh Groban as Sweeney Todd and Tony nominee Annaleigh Ashford as Mrs. Lovett, with Tony winner Kail at the helm.
The current Broadway cast also includes Daniel Yearwood as Anthony, Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things) as Tobias, Tony Award winner and Laurence Olivier Award nominee Ruthie Ann Miles (The King and I) as Beggar Woman, Maria Bilbao (On Your Feet!) as Johanna, Jamie Jackson (The Last Ship) as Judge Turpin, John Rapson (Les Misérables) as Beadle Bamford, and Nicholas Christopher (Hamilton) as Pirelli.
The ensemble includes Galyana Castillo, Jonathan Christopher, Taeler Cyrus, Timothy Hughes, Paul-Jordan Jansen, Alicia Kaori, Raymond J. Lee, Patricia Phillips, Samantha Pollino, Lexi Rabadi, Nathan Salstone, Kristie Dale Sanders, Stephen Tewksbury, Daniel Torres, Felix Torrez-Ponce, and DeLaney Westfall.
Based on the Christopher Bond play of the same name, Sweeney Todd centers on its titular barber who seeks revenge on a corrupt judge and turns to murder, with neighbor and accomplice Mrs. Lovett ultimately discovering they can dispose of the evidence by serving up the most unsettling meat pies to the people of London.
The production features choreography by Steven Hoggett, scenic design by Mimi Lien, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Natasha Katz, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, special effects design by Jeremy Chernick, and wig, hair, and make-up design by J. Jared Janas. Casting is by The Telsey Office, and Baseline Theatrical's Nick Lugo and James Hickey serve as general managers. Cody Renard Richard is production stage manager.