Aurora Community Theatre will "attend the tale of Sweeney Todd" starting July 5.
The musical, by Stephen Sondheim, with book by Hugh Wheeler, it tells the story of barber Benjamin Barker, who was imprisoned on trumped-up charges for 15 years. He has returned with a new moniker and a thirst for revenge. Along with Nellie Lovett, a pie shop owner, he exacts his retribution on just about anyone unfortunate to cross his path.
Claudia Lillibridge makes her ACT directorial debut with "Sweeney Todd," while John Krol returns as music director.
Thomas Love of Shaker Heights, who plays the title role, said he usually wouldn't have auditioned for one show so soon after wrapping up another, but couldn't resist the opportunity.
"I just did 'Les Miserables' in Shaker, and had no intention of doing another show so soon," Love said. "I've done 'Sweeney Todd' before, where I played the Beadle. This is a bucket list role for me. The music is spectacular, and the character is so unusual for musical theater. A sympathetic serial killer is unusual."
Mike Rogan of Highland Heights, who plays the villainous Judge Turpin, said playing this role has been "on the top of my list."
"He's a purely evil character," Rogan said. "I get all the good lines."
Andy Novak of Aurora, who plays Anthony Hope, said that he sees his character as the contrast to Sweeney Todd.
"Anthony is basically the light and the hope of the show," Novak said. "He is a very hopeful character, in contrast to the darkness in Sweeney. This is a role I've wanted to play for a long time. I've never really played a romantic lead before. I've played character roles. I'm also a huge fan of Stephen Sondheim. He blends the two different worlds of the dramatic and the music together like no other composer can."
Shannon Eller of Macedonia, who plays the Beggar Woman, said that she played Johanna, Turpin's young ward, about 20 years ago in Youngstown. In this production, Johanna is played by Carolyn Voorhees.
"I've wanted to play the Beggar Woman ever since," she said. "I auditioned for the role a couple years ago. There are musical challenges and acting challenges. I usually play a leading lady or a damsel in distress, so I wanted to play a character who was 180 degrees from what I usually play."
Ann Nyenhuis of Twinsburg, who plays Mrs. Nellie Lovett, said the role was "a bucket list role" for her.
"I have a vocal performance degree from Kent State," she said. "I've been doing theater all my life."
Other featured actors include Justin Roth as Tobias Ragg, Jon Baley as Beadle Bamford, Michael Guffey as Adolfo Pirelli/Danny O'Higgins and T. J. Hayes as Jonas Fogg. The ensemble includes Jesse Bergoine, Madeline Cuckow, Heather Gosnell, Avery Bounds, Ryan Roark, Tom Emerick, Becky Grano, Nick Alder and Emma Weihe.
Ticket and show information
"Sweeney Todd" will have seven performances through July 19. Tickets at $16 for all adults, $11 for age 18 and under are available online, anytime, including seat selection at auroracommunitytheatre.com or by calling 330-562-1818. Group discounts can be arranged by calling the box office. Opening night tickets include a complimentary after-show gala and the opportunity to meet cast and crew. Guests purchasing a ticket for the July 6 performance can get one ticket free.
Aurora Community Theatre is at 115 E. Pioneer Trail, near the intersection of Route 43 and 306, at the gazebo, in the center of Aurora.