The Grand Theatre Company kicked off Halloween season with their production of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” — and as the show enters its last week, Bruins can still catch three performances at the South City Campus on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“Sweeney Todd” made its debut on Broadway in 1979. It tells the story of an unjustly imprisoned barber named Benjamin Barker. Once in London, Barker changes his name to Sweeney Todd and seeks revenge against Judge Turpin, the man who exiled him and defiled his wife.
Actress Samantha Paredes portrays Johanna, Todd’s 16-year-old daughter, who is housebound in Judge Turpin’s care while Todd is incarcerated. “Playing Johanna is really cool,” Paredes said. “It’s a dream role … It’s just kind of the whole package.”
The musical takes a dark turn when Todd witnesses Judge Turpin’s control over Johanna, driving the titular character mad with bitterness and revenge. Todd begins rampantly killing innocent citizens of London with the hope that one day he will receive his vengeance against Turpin.
Through this production, Paredes has learned to focus on the things in life that matter most.
“There’s a lot to be said about Sweeney Todd,” Paredes stated. “The most important thing is that no matter how bad things get, you can’t let your bitterness blind you from the things that are most important.”
Members of the SLCC community said they enjoyed the musical adaptation despite the dark subject matter. Two attendees, Salt Lake Community College student Gavin Cardon and University of Utah student Kendra Collins, were impressed by the show’s level of production.
“It’s wildly uncomfortable, but I think it’s supposed to be,” Cardon said. “It’s all new to me. But I’ve been loving the music, and the set is really well designed. There’s no other plays like this.”
Stage Director Mark Fossen said he has been enamored with the story of “Sweeney Todd” since he first listened to the original cast recording in 1982. Now, 41 years later, he finally has the opportunity to bring Todd’s story to the stage.
“[Sweeney Todd] represents everything I want from theatre,” Fossen wrote in a letter to the audience. “Shocking, thrilling, funny and so very, very beautiful.”
Every performance starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets cost $35 for adults and $28 for people 60 and older. Disability accommodations are available if needed. To purchase tickets or for information about future performances at the Grand Theatre, visit grandtheatrecompany.com.