Fog settles across the dim stage as a smooth melody begins, a sparkling blade shimmers and without a moment spared, blood spills down his crisp white collar and his chair is spun around and his seemingly lifeless body dumped to be made into a pie.
Colorado State University Opera Theatre and Opera Orchestra are coming together to put on Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim.
The story of Sweeney Todd is about a man named Benjamin Barker who was falsely convicted and sent to Australia for life. After escaping prison he returns to England to seek revenge. Through his connections with Mrs. Lovett, he starts up his barber business again, with an ulterior motive. Mrs. Lovett suggests that the victimsâ€™ bodies be made into pies for her pie shop, and thus the chilling tale began.
Gregory Brookes, assistant professor of music, is the director of this fall production and helped decide how to portray Sweeney dumping the bodies after killing them.
â€œThe idea is that we have a barber chair that will turn around and there will be a slide out the back for when the bodies end up in the bake house,â€ Brookes said. â€œWe are not going to see the bodies go down the slide, but we will see Sweeney kill the victims, spin the chair around and dump them.â€
Brookes and a panel of music faculty chose the two casts for the production in late April. All shows are double casted to give more opportunities to students, and to have understudies in case of an actor becoming ill. The double cast needed those extra parts since the show was open to all CSU students who were interested in auditioning.
When casting Mrs. Lovett, the panel looked for certain qualities in the performances of the students. Audrey Hurley, second year master student in theatrical performance, and Emily Thomas, junior in music, were chosen to play this unique character.
â€œMrs. Lovett is a brassy high-energy character, and both Audrey and Emily have those characteristics,â€ Brookes said. â€œShe has to be able to belt. Mrs. Lovett is not one of the classical characters, but we want the singer to be comfortable singing and I think both of these ladies have the voice and the energy to be able to do that. Mrs. Lovett has to have a cockney accent, and so the ability to hear an accent and duplicate it is what we were looking for as well.â€
Hurley, 25, explained how she looked into much of Mrs. Lovettâ€™s background to capture the essence of her character. She mentioned that Lovett had been married previously and had feelings for Sweeney before he left for Australia.
â€œI am still trying to figure her out, â€œ Hurley said. â€œI mean it is her idea to bake people into pies, so she canâ€™t be all there.â€
For their auditions, students sang a piece from an opera and performed a few lines from Sweeney Todd. Brookes compared the auditions to the actors chosen for the movie by Tim Burton.
â€œI think that they cast the movie with actors that could sing and we are going to have singers who, hopefully, can act,â€ Brookes said. â€œIt is dark, sinister and fun. It is not a coincidence that we are doing it so close to Halloween. They [the audience] walk in and there is going to be sounds and fog. So, right as soon as they enter the concert hall they will be in the show.â€
Location: Griffin Concert Hall, University Center for the Arts, 1400 Remington St.
Price: $10/CSU students, $1/youth (2-17), $20/adult
Friday, Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.