Review: Sweeney Todd the Musical

by Alex Vinci '11, Staff Writer


LEFT: Matthew Geary '09 as Sweeney Todd and Julia Weaver '09 as Nellie Lovett, in the performance staged by Bishop McNamara's theater program. More photos by Grant Hill '10 can be seen here.

Review by Alex Vinci '11, Staff Writer

McNamara's Theater Department put on a spectacular production of Sweeney Todd, School Edition on the third and fourth weekends of November. Sweeney Todd was an interesting pick for this year's musical because it is darker than most plays put on here at school.
"Ever since I saw it put on by the touring Broadway, I really loved the music and thought, 'I want to direct it one of these days,'" said director Mary Mitchell-Donahue.
When the School Edition came out in July, it presented a great opportunity for the fall musical.
"It's a rare play and it's really easy for the audience to get into," said Jesse Marciniak '10, who played the part of Tobias Ragg.
Rumors flew previous to opening night that it "wouldn't be good."
"Despite how people said it was going to be bad, I thought it was good and really funny," commented Andrea Dauz '11.
Each performance proved the grapevine wrong and made it a success.
"It never got boring and was always exciting," said Addie Miller '11.
Matt Geary '09 and Julia Weaver '09 played the lead roles of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett. Both students have amazing talent and brought it into their characters exceptionally. But when they were paired together, to say that they "did it justice," was an understatement.
Some other "fan favorites" were Marian Donahue '09 and Nick Arbin '10, who added to the comedy of the play.
"All of the students worked really hard throughout the whole thing," said Mrs. Donahue. A major amount of work went into the production, including time dedicated to the set. Dr. Tom Donahue, set designer, was the brains behind the set.
The most interesting feature was the chute used to slide dead bodies down. Walls were up to cover the chute from the audience, but behind the walls there was a steep slide with a large cushion at the bottom to soften the fall. Also, two people from backstage were alongside the chute, one to stabilize cast members and the other to open the trap door. The barber's chair was built so it could go from 90 degrees and collapse into the chute
If you attended the final night of the play, you would have witnessed the cast experiencing technical difficulties with the chair. Three students were left to face an ungraceful drop below. Stephen Barroga '09 cleverly slithered off the chair into the depths successful in hiding the mechanical failure from the audience. The cast was left without a quick fix and Marian Donahue and Dillon DiSalvo '10 improvised their plans accordingly.
But away from the stage and the actors on it, McNamara's pit orchestra worked very hard bringing life to the music.
"We practiced for about four and a half hours every day the week before the play," said Patrick Steager '11.
"We came in on our two days off," added Daniel Johnson '11.
The live music pounded out dramatic notes pulling the audience into every song.
Such great success leaves McNamara looking forward to the next play.
The drama will return Spring 2009, when the theater puts on the romantic comedy, Pride and Prejudice.

For more photos, click to see a slideshow of images from the musical.

By Bishop McNamara HS |  December 8, 2008; 5:35 PM ET Theater
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