There is more to the demon barber than meets the eye.
While Sweeney Todd may be most widely known for his murderous ways, Lynne Leydier, the Soundstage Productions director of the upcoming performance of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street debuting Jan. 14 at the Penticton Lakeside Resort, feels the story holds an often unrecognized societal commentary.
“It’s dark, but it also really examines our social structures in society and how we operate within it and who we are as people within that structure,” Leydier said.
The production is based on the adaptation by Christopher Bond and covers the grim subject matter of the murderous barber and his partner in crime, Mrs. Lovett with her cannibalistic pies, but the themes delve much deeper, taking a contextual look at our collective values and the flaws within those structures, according to Leydier.
“This show, even though it has an interesting, bizarre story it really is about humanity and about our social stratifications and what we value and try to aspire to and the corruption that lies within that,” Leydier said. “It’s about what’s really good and what isn’t.”
The iconic staple of musical theatre is one Leydier has been hoping to put on for some time.
“This has been a bucket-list show for me. I’ve always wanted to do Sweeney Todd,” Leydier said.
She added that American lyricist, composer and theatre icon Stephen Sondheim has been an inspiration for her and Sweeney Todd marks the first time she has done a full production of a Sondheim piece.
MacEwan theatre arts graduate Ashley Surowsky has been hoping to work on a production with Leydier for a while, but varying availability kept her from auditioning in the past.
However, much like Leydier, she couldn’t resist a chance to do this particular production.
“I wasn’t going to audition until I heard that she (Leydier) was doing this show. I said well there’s not a lot of opportunities to play this role so I might as well try to go for it and see how it goes, so I’m very thrilled to be given the opportunity,”
Surowsky will be playing Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd’s partner in crime and seller of insidious meat pies.
“She’s one of those amazing female roles to play. She’s quite the dynamic character,” Surowsky said. “It’s a hilarious role, and the show is quite funny considering it is a dark context, but it’s incredibly fun.”
Surowsky also feels the subject matter in Sweeney Todd is often misunderstood, and is a more laugh-filled production than it lets on.
“If you’re not familiar with the show, people don’t realize how absolutely hilarious it is in some moments, how intelligent it is. You won’t leave the show feeling down. You’ll leave the show having laughed and felt something,” Surowsky said.
Sweeney Todd will debut Jan. 14 through to Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. With two shows on Jan. 17 at 1 p.m. And 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Penticton Lakeside Resort or by phone at 250-493-8221.