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Sweeney Todd kills it on stage at Paul Green Theatre

PlayMakers Repertory Company production of Sweeny Todd. CREDIT: Jon Gardiner

Cannibalism, blood, revenge and love all have one thing in common — Sweeney Todd.

In an adaptation created by Christopher Bond, PlayMakers Repertory Company will premiere the musical thriller, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

Max Bitar, a 2015 UNC graduate, said the play is the best of both worlds, leading the audience through a wide range of emotions and keeping them on their toes.

“The great thing about this show is that it is a seamless blend of hysterical comedy, hysterical black comedy as well as intense melodrama,“ he said. “It is not going to be something that is just funny and light-hearted, but it’s also not going to be some heavy tragedy.”

The play consists of 20 performers and features actors from many different backgrounds ranging from Broadway to television.

Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch said the play’s diverse cast generates a wealth of talent to bring the musical to life.

“I have to say, in this case, we have an amazing combination of our own resident PlayMakers Company actors, graduate students from our professional training program, a number of undergrads and some fantastic local talent,” she said.

“We also have four guest artists coming from New York, as well as our two leads, David St. Louis and Annie Golden, two Broadway veterans who know their way around a Broadway musical.”

Benesch said the roles of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett were the most sought-after roles.

“For many people, Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett are bucket list goals for musical theater actors,” she said. “Not to be ironic about what the play is about, but it’s just so meaty. It is meaty, challenging work, and actors just love biting into it.”

But “Sweeney Todd” has taken a lot of collaborative work to bring to life.

From casting the show to dreaming up the show’s appearance by creating sets, costumes and lighting with her design team, director Jen Wineman has worked hard to make the musical a reality.

“For me, a lot of it is about that there is some literal churning up and spitting out in this show, as we know from the meat pies, but there is also a sense of the system and how people are kind of worked through that system.” she said. “There are those that are there running the machine, and then there are the ones that are going through the machine.”

Wineman said, for her, the true connection to the characters came when she discovered what ultimately drives the show — love.

“Love comes in many different forms, and (the characters) act out that love in perverted and sociopathic ways,” she said.

“But the thing that is driving everyone is a quest for romantic love or revenge for ones that they loved that had been harmed. 

“At the core of it all, it is pure — even though the expression of that love is brutal.”

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