Sweeney Todd tops on director’s list

The director of SoundStage Productions decided on a long-time favourite for her most recent musical.

Lynne Leydier of SoundStage Productions

Lynne Leydier of SoundStage Productions

When the director of SoundStage Productions decided on her most recent musical, she went with a production she’s been wanting to do for a long time.

“It was something I’ve loved for 20 years, ever since I first had seen it,” said Lynne Leydier, regarding her choice of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

“It’s been kind of a bucket-list musical of mine.I’ve admired and am a great fan of Stephen Sondheim’s work.”

Leydier is holding auditions for the show on Sept. 7 at the Penticton Lakeside Resort from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. She is seeking males and females aged 15 years and older, and mature singers are also welcome, with choir experience being an asset.

People are asked to bring a favourite song, sing O Canada or sing a number from the show including Johanna, Worst Pies in London, Green Finch and Linnet Bird, Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir, By the Sea or Pretty Woman.

The play will feature a variety of roles and will showcase trained singers and a strong chorus section. There are no dancing requirements.

Rehearsals are set to take place Sundays only, and the show is set to open Jan. 11, 2015.

Leydier talked about how some people might compare the stage musical to the film version of Sweeney Todd that starred Johnny Depp, and was directed by Tim Burton.

“I had to make a big departure,” she said, noting that following her previous production of Les Miserables in January, 2013, she was looking for something different.

“I guess the concern would be, people have preconceived ideas, if they even know about Sweeney Todd at all. The character of Sweeney Todd has a long history. It’s based on a true story out of England, and it has many renditions, historically.”

Leydier noted that where the Burton-directed film adopted more of a thriller/horror concept, the musical’s plot is actually far more in-depth, and carries a significant social commentary.

“It’s not just saying let’s take a character who’s out for revenge and wreak havoc on society,” she said. “It is a story about revenge, but when you have a society that is corrupt — from government, to corporations, to whatever — when you get to a hierarchy society, at the top, there’s a creation amount of corruption, and when you’re at the bottom, sometimes, they don’t really care what happens to the bottom people.

“It’s this concept of who’s devouring who; you can be devoured up by corruption.”

Leydier said although a person can interpret the story in their own way, the dialogue and songs carry an important message about the human race, how society is arranged and what can happen when a person is pushed beyond their own limits.

In terms of casting, Leydier said that in her previous productions, she cast not only local actors, but she also casts people from Osoyoos and Vernon.

She said that by holding rehearsals for her productions once per week (Sundays) rather than three or four times a week has made  it feasible for cast members to fit practice time into their schedules.

Even though she’s cast some of the same actors in past productions, Leydier said she’s always looking for new talent and encourages new people to come out and audition for her shows.

“Every show requires different types of skills,” said Leydier, who is estimating to cast about 20 people for what she expects to be a challenging musical to stage.

“It’s got a lot of diversity in the vocal range and it’s complex,” said Leydier. “It’s fascinating and challenging music in a good way.”

She said even though she’s directed many musicals, it’s always exciting to see what happens and how everything comes together.

“I always keep an open mind, that’s why I”m always hoping to encourage new people to come out and try,” said Leydier. “You never know.”

For more information on the show contact Leydier at lleydier@shaw.ca.