While Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford are currently making meat pies out of unsuspecting clients at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, another pair of Broadway artists are sharpening their knives for Signature Theatre's upcoming production of the Tony-winning Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Nathaniel Stampley (The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, The Color Purple) will star as vengeful barber Sweeney Todd with Bryonha Marie (The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, Ragtime) as the meat-pie baking Mrs. Lovett in the Arlington, Virginia, production, which will play the MAX Theatre May 16-July 9.
Sarna Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George) will direct the musical, the final of the three Sondheim productions in Signature's 2022-2023 season (following Pacific Overtures and Into the Woods). Jon Kalbfleisch music directs with choreography by Alison Solomon (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
The cast will also include Rayanne Gonzales as the Beggar Woman, Ian McEuen as Adolpho Pirelli, Katie Mariko Murray as Johanna, Christopher Michael Richardson as the Beadle Bamford, Paul Scanlan (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical national tour) as Anthony, Harrison Smith as Tobias, and John Leslie Wolfe (Parade) as Judge Turpin with ensemble members Benjamin Lurye, Jimmy Mavrikes, Bob McDonald, Adelina Mitchell, Crystal Mosser, Lawrence Redmond, Katherine Riddle, Sarah Anne Sillers, and Chani Wereley. Julia Wheeler Lennon, Rebecca Madeira, Dylan Toms, and Hank von Kolnitz are swings.
“In 1991, Signature produced its first Sondheim musical, his masterpiece Sweeney Todd," says Signature Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner. "That original production marked the start of our ongoing relationship with the composer whose work would become a staple at Signature. As we culminate So Many Possibilities: A Season of Sondheim, I look forward to seeing Sarna Lapine, a proven expert at interpreting Sondheim’s work, put her unique mark on this Sondheim classic as we ‘attend the tale’ as only Signature knows how.”
"Sweeney Todd is a story told on the scale of Greek tragedy. Its emotions, action, music, and call to be witnessed exist at an epic scale,” adds director Lapine. “Accordingly, the ensemble in Sweeney Todd functions like a Greek chorus. And in Signature’s wonderfully intimate space, the audience itself becomes an extension of this chorus, bearing witness to the horrors caused by corruption, social inequity, and injustice."
The production will also have scenic design by Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams, costume design by Robert Perdziola, lighting design by Jesse Belsky, sound design by Eric Norris, wig design by Anne Nesmith, fight choreography by Casey Kaleba, dialect coaching by Zach Campion, intimacy consulting by Chelsea Pace, and casting by Jorge Acevedo.
Kerry Epstein is the production stage manager, Joey Blakely is the assistant stage manager, and Genevieve Dornemann is the production assistant.
The creative team also includes associate director Kellie Beck, assistant director Nikki Mirza, associate music director Zak Sandler, associate choreographer Allison Walsh, assistant costume designer Caitlin Rain, assistant lighting designer Heather Reynolds, assistant wig designer Ali Pohanka, and keyboard programmer Alexander Greenberg.
The original production of Sweeney Todd, which debuted on Broadway in 1979, won eight 1980 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, along with Best Actor and Actress nods for original stars Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury. The work has gone on to be regarded by many as one of Sondheim's masterpieces, with its epic, operatic scale letting it be equally at home on the musical theatre stage as it is at the opera house. The musical was revived on Broadway in 1989 and 2005, and Off-Broadway in 2017, all presenting the work on a smaller scale with dramatically smaller orchestrations. A film adaptation, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, was released in 2007.
Tickets are available at SigTheatre.org.