This year marks the 40 year anniversary of Altona City Theatre, and what better way to celebrate it than with “a show about a demon barber who murders his customers and has them baked into pies”!
SWEENEY Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opens this Friday 21st September, directed by one of the company’s more familiar faces; Dean Mitchelmore. President of Altona City Theatre James Morgan says "audiences may remember Dean as the Director of the insanely successful Avenue Q last year, and we thought it was only fitting to have him fill such an important role in our 40th anniversary year".
Mitchelmore “first heard Sondheim in [his] teens and bought one CD after another”, now making it his goal “to do a production of every one of them”. He strongly believes that “Sweeney Todd is Sondheim's masterpiece – it is his nod to the Hollywood thrillers of his youth”. Mitchelmore’s initial attraction to the production, aside from the music, was “its strength. Sondheim took a traditional story that was largely about a monster that killed for pleasure, and turned it into a revenge play. Through that, you are able to feel empathy for a man who is slicing the throats of people and having them baked into pies! It's a delicious prospect.”
When approaching the musical, Mitchelmore was particularly interested in the “side characters of the show”, and presenting them in innovating and interesting ways. “Looking at the show, it's clear that just about every character in the show is inherently twisted in some way – and you could argue that all of them are naturally twisted except Sweeney. Sweeney himself, of course, becomes twisted by the injustices that are done to him and his family, but the distinction intrigued me and it's made for some fantastic discussions with the cast.”
Mitchelmore describes both the Set and Costume Design as reflective of “the corruption of the society at the time”.
His direction is synchronous; “the ensemble is suitably deformed and creepy, and the main cast have interesting aspects to their characters you may have never seen before”. Mitchelmore also describes Sweeney’s Barber Chair, created by Dean Pearce, as “amazing and surprising”, and that it must be “seen to believed”.
Dave Barclay’s SWEENEY Todd hopes to bring new and unexpected things to the role, and Maxine Montgomery’s Mrs Lovett is a fantastic balance of humour and darkness. “I have a dream cast” says Mitchelmore, “I am blessed to have had these people audition”.
“If the audiences are thrilled, a little revolted and perhaps shed a tear for the plight of the razor-wielding Sweeney Todd, then I will be happy” says Mitchelmore. “Although the show is a bit dark, it's really something that anyone over the age of 15 should see; it has humor, catchy orchestral tunes, and rather deranged twists.”
The show will be run for three weekends with matinee and evening performances between Friday the 21st of September and Saturday the 6th of October 2012 at the Altona Theatre, 115 Civic Parade Altona.
For tickets please visit www.altonacitytheatre.com.au or call 0425 705 550