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Posts Tagged ‘Sweeney Todd’

Costuming Wheaton Drama’s Sweeney Todd in the Hands of a Talented Area Student

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

By Elena Dansdill

A show with 23 different actors, a wide variety of costume changes with full 19th century style outfits, and starting mostly from scratch is enough to make any experienced costume designer overwhelmed. But Wheaton Drama’s new costume designer for Sweeney Todd – Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Abeline Glenzinki is doing it all, at only age 17. Since March, Abeline has been planning, sketching, researching the period, and watching other adaptations of the show for inspiration on how to create the world of Sweeney Todd through costumes.

Abeline Glenzinki works on designs for
Wheaton Drama’s upcoming production of Sweeney Todd – Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Starting from scratch, Abeline says she’s, “terrified but excited” to head the costumes for this show. While still only in high school, she’s certainly qualified. She began sewing in only third grade and quickly got involved with costumes and theatre throughout middle school and high school. You might have seen some of her pieces at Wheaton Drama in Elephant Man or Willy Wonka, but this is the first time she’s been the sole head of costumes.

It’s quite an accomplishment, and the first time someone so young has led such a daunting production at Wheaton Drama. “This is a huge show, from all aspects – the music, the set, the props, and the costumes,” say Wheaton Drama President, Stan Austin. “That someone as young as Abeline has so much vision, drive, responsibility and talent is really incredible. What she’s been able to create really has to be seen to be believed.”

 “My favorite character I’ve been designing at the moment is Mrs. Lovett,” Abeline says, “I’m planning to make or sew most of her pieces.”

Design sketches for Mrs. Lovett’s costume – one of more than 23 creations
Abeline Glenzinki is designing for Sweeney Todd

Taking a glance through her rough sketches, the characters have already started to come to life. For Mrs. Lovett’s second act costume, Abeline says she’s “channeling a more Victorian look with a super fun red skirt and jacket combo.” Even the small snippets of descriptions and color themes on her sketches show her talent and eye for blending traditional Sweeney Todd costumes and her own style. But you can only do so much on paper; the fun doesn’t really begin until the actors and dress rehearsals come into play.

Besides having to think about the actors comfortability onstage, Abeline says she’s learned a lot more about fully designing a whole show: “You have to consider what the lights and set are going to look like so colors don’t clash. You have to decide what is considered a prop and what’s hair and makeup. You have to develop an organization system or else you’re just left with piles of clothes.” The final product is still far from finished, but with only a couple weeks left until opening night, Sweeney Todd is sure to excite all audiences with its thrilling blend of costumes, lights, music, sets, and theatre magic.

Sweeney Todd will be on stage at Wheaton Drama from May 24 through June 16, 2019. Performances are Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays at 8pm & Sundays at 3pm. Tickets available NOW at www.wheatondrama.org or by phone at 630-260-1820.

Sweeney Todd is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.

Tony-Award Winning Epic Comes to Wheaton Drama

Friday, May 10th, 2019

By Mike Frale

Wheaton Drama’s upcoming production, Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler, is currently in rehearsals, with the cast and crew working to navigate the extremely difficult and famous piece.

Sweeney Todd tells the story of barber Benjamin Barker, aka Sweeney Todd, as he tries to get revenge against his arch-enemy for the murder of his wife, Lucy, with the aid of the cheerful and amoral pie shop owner, Mrs. Lovett. As he opens his shop up above Mrs. Lovett’s store, he gets caught between the destined love between his daughter, Johanna, and a naïve sailor, Anthony.

Director, Randy Knott

Randy Knott is directing this epic and we had a chance to sit down with him –

What drew you to direct “Sweeney”?  

Boy.  I guess I’d ask “what didn’t?”  The music is amazing; challenging, yet satisfying to the ear.  The story is as old as stories themselves.  I love the ambiguity of who the bad guy is, and I love the idea that all of us, if we look into our hearts, probably are capable of the atrocities that are committed in the show.  We certainly, through the play, find ourselves capable of cheering for the guy committing them.  THAT, I find delicious.  My favorite villain in film is Michael Corleone, because his bend towards evil is a choice.  “…Todd” lets us see that, also.  

Is there something you hope audiences will be able to learn from watching “Sweeney”?

I always hope that any show I direct allows the audience to find some part of themselves during the evening.  Even the comedies.  This show, I believe, really looks at things like class, revenge, love, ambition, opportunism, injustice, and abuse of power, etc.  In some ways, it’s an incredibly timely piece.  In some ways, it always will be.  

What is a piece of advice you give to your actors as they prepare for this difficult and exhausting piece of musical theatre history?

I want them always to be honest to the moment.  Because this show has so much theatricality, so much singing, so much beauty…it is easy to slip into falling in love with the sound of one’s own voice, or of the music.  The audience will, of course, fall in love with that also…but they paid to see the story.  That’s what I’m trying to get to.  

Randy Knott (Director), David Pfenninger (Sweeney Todd), and Sara Malloy (Mrs. Lovett) (L-R) work a sceene while the cast looks on.

How did you prepare to direct this production in the pre-rehearsal process?

I’ve spent countless hours discussing, with Julie, the assistant director (and my domestic partner), the characters, the small moments, the big moments, the set, the setting, the time, etc.  I’ve been studying this show for a year.  The actors have been studying it for 2 months.  As with most projects of this magnitude, one has lots of big ideas.  I have dozens of things in my head about this show, these characters, and deep character dives. One of the things I’ve come to realize is that my ambition – while never fully put aside – can get in the way of the fundamentals.  Sometimes you have to worry about making sure everyone can be seen, that the set is going to work, or that the props get cleared…and the deeper ambitions…they’ll have to wait.  We’ve still got 2 weeks, though…I’m excited to see how much of that ambition makes it to the stage.

Sweeney Todd will be on stage at Wheaton Drama from May 24 through June 16, 2019. Performances are Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays at 8pm & Sundays at 3pm.

Tickets available NOW at www.wheatondrama.org or by phone at 630-260-1820.Sweeney Todd is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.

Casting Announced: SWEENEY TODD

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Director Randall Knott is excited to announce the cast for Wheaton Drama’s upcoming production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Knott and his production team are excited for the adventure ahead and would like to thank all those who auditioned for the production.

Cast List

Sweeney ToddDavid Pfenninger
PirelliBlake Malley
AnthonyEric J. Downs
BeadleNathan Dittmore
Beggar WomanMeg McGarry
JohannaMary Rose Nicholas
JudgeStan Austin
Mrs. LovettSara Malloy
TobiasHenry Allan
EnsembleJean Austin
EnsembleMorgan Dietkus
EnsembleAndy Emmerich
EnsembleBonnie Hagemann
EnsembleTracy Kay
EnsembleDavid Korzatkowski
EnsembleKevin Loeper
EnsembleMonsieur Mason
EnsembleMike Plazcek
EnsembleWill Rozak
EnsembleJessica Sheffield
EnsembleKrystyn Wells
EnsembleMatt Whalen
EnsembleClaire Yearman

Production Staff & Crew

DirectorRandall Knott
Assistant DirectorJulie Dotin
Production & Stage ManagerElyse Willis
Musical DirectorBryan McCaffrey
Assistant Musical DirectorAaron Zimmerman
Assistant Stage ManagerVikkie Willis
Assistant Stage ManagerMelanie Johnson
Assistant Stage ManagerBruce Ebner
Set DesignerMichael Boyna
Costume DesignerAbeline Glenzinski
Hair and Make Up DesignerJim Martin
Light DesignerJim Van De Velde
Sound DesignerDave Amato
Fight Coreographer / Stage CombatBruce Worthel
ChoregrapherKaty Smith

Sweeney Todd will be on stage May 24 through June 16, 2019. Performances will be Thursdays, Fridays, & Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 3pm. All performances are held at Wheaton Drama’s Playhouse 111, located at 111 N. Hale Street in downtown Wheaton. Tickets are available NOW by phone at 630-260-1820 or online at www.wheatondrama.org.

Audition Notice: SWEENEY TODD

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

Wheaton Drama announces auditions for SWEENEY TODD: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, directed by Randall W. Knott, with production management by Elyse Willis, musical direction by Bryan McCaffery, and choreography by Katy Smith.

WHEN: Sunday, March 3 or Monday, March 4, beginning at 7 p.m..  Callbacks will be held on Wednesday, March 6, beginning at 7 p.m..

WHERE:  Wheaton Drama’s Playhouse 111, located at 111 N. Hale St., Wheaton, IL

Auditions will be by appointment (see below). Please prepare 32 bars of a piece in the style of the show. There will be no movement/reading at the preliminary auditions, just singing. Callbacks will include some movement. Please plan to arrive as early as you need to prepare for your audition time. Note: we intend to be on time, if you are late, your spot will likely be forfeited. See below for character descriptions.

To schedule an appointment:  

Audition appointments have been filled and a waiting list has been started. Please email below to be added to the waiting list for an audition!

Please email toddwdi2019@gmail.com with a preferred audition night, NOT a preferred time. With the demand we expect, we will not be able to accommodate requests for appointment time. Audition appointments will be scheduled in 5 minute increments, and the Production Staff reserves the right to fill the slots as requests arrive. Please indicate that in the event your preferred night is not available, if you are available the other night as well. Auditions will be first come, first serve, and limited to the 72 slots we are creating. Audition appointments will close on March 1, 5:00 pm.  

SWEENEY TODDwill run May 24 through June 16, 2019. Performances will take place Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays at 8pm & Sundays at 3pm. All performances are staged at Wheaton Drama’s Playhouse 111, located at 111 N. Hale Street in downtown Wheaton.

Non-Mandatory Q&A with Production Staff

There will be a non-mandatory Q&A with the Director and Assistant Director on Saturday morning, February 9th, at Playhouse 111, 10:00-11:00 a.m. Audition expectations, a brief description of the vision of the show, and any questions from those attending will be the topics of the day.  There will be doughnuts, coffee, etc.  Mostly, it’s a way to break some of the tension before the auditions.  As stated, attendance is not mandatory, but we might have some fun.  

Character Descriptions:
Age ranges mean WHAT CAN BE VISUALIZED ON STAGE age ranges, not necessarily actual ages of actors.

Sweeney Todd– Baritone  (Age 35-45)  Primary male lead. A man out for revenge following his 15 year false imprisonment in Australia.  Will learn small amount of stage combat.

Mrs. Lovett– Mezzo (Age 45-55)  Primary female lead.  Opportunistic owner of a failing meat pie shop.  Comedic, for sure, but with an edge.

Judge Turpin– Baritone (Age 55-75) Supporting male lead.  Sanctimonious “honorable” man responsible for Todd’s imprisonment. 

Anthony Hope– Tenor  (Age  20-25) Supporting male lead.  Wide-eyed romantic ingénue.

Johanna– Lyric Soprano (Age 16) Supporting female lead.  Romantic ingénue who is perhaps not so wide-eyed.

Beggar Woman– Mezzo (Age – 35-45) Supporting female lead.  “Crazy” beggar woman with a tragic story to tell.

Tobias Ragg– Tenor (teenager-early 30s) Supporting male lead.  Mentally challenged, put-upon young man.  Will consider teenagers, but bear in mind that the role is demanding, vocally.  

Beadle Bamford– Tenor (Age 45-55) Supporting male lead.  Turpin’s lackey.  What Bill Sikes would be if he’d had someone spot his talent and groom him.  Must have a high falsetto range.

Adolfo  Pirelli– HIGH, crisp tone, tenor (Age 25-35) Pirelli is a theatrically comic Italian(?) barber with a soaring voice…and a secret.  

Ensemble– We NEEDbetween 5-16 ensemble members to act as a Greek Chorus throughout the play.  Stage time will be plentiful, and ALL will be featured, at least visually, at some point.  The Ensemble will be balanced based on strength of vocalists, it may be divided equally SATB, it may not.  We will be casting at least 3 males and 2 females in the ensemble. We would prefer a larger ensemble, as we want to fill the stage with sound.  This is a show that absolutely depends on its ensemble.

This production is non-equity & there is no pay.

SWEENEY TODD is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIshows.com

Our 2018/19 season: A bounty for theatergoers

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Wheaton Drama proudly announces its 2018/19 season, bookended with starkly different musicals and featuring two comedies and a provocative drama.

Here’s what’s in store for our audience:

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a family-friendly musical based on the Roald Dahl book, tells of a boy named Charlie who, along with four other children, get to tour the inner workings of an extraordinary candy manufacturing plant—guided by the mysterious genius Willy Wonka himself. Will the array of sweets and treats prove too great a temptation for the young visitors? (Sept. 14 to Oct. 7, 2018)

Silent Laughter, Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore’s homage to silent comedy films, teems with slapstick and sight gags and features lovable lovers, greedy villains and an array of stock characters. Audiences familiar with the works of Charlie Chaplin, Mack Sennett, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd will howl with laughter, and those just discovering the genre will see just how much fun they’ve been missing. (Nov. 16 to Dec. 9, 2018)

Our annual holiday show is still TBA. (Dec. 13 to Dec. 16, 2018)

W;t, the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Margaret Edson, focuses on a brilliant professor whose perspectives on life evolve after she is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Despite the poignancy of the storyline, the play brims with gentle humor and offers uplifting insights into the human condition and the importance of recognizing and appreciating those around us. (Jan. 18 to Feb 10, 2019)

Murdered to Death affectionately spoofs murder mysteries in the vein of Agatha Christie. Intrigue abounds as homicide and side-splitting humor intertwine as guests gather at an English manor house. Certainly there would be multiple suspects, but multiple detectives trying to crack the case? Don your deerstalker, grab your magnifying glass and guess along with them as to whodunit. (March 22 to April 14, 2019)

Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, is master composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s take on the classic Victorian tale of vengeance, justice and injustice, and pie fillings. Rife with dark humor, unforgettable characters, desperate love, unbridled lust, and a gripping score, the show will have audiences alternately gasping and cheering from start to finish. (May 17 to June 9, 2019) Update: Rights for this show have been secured.

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