Monday, September 25, 2023

MTSU Theatre and Dance performs “Sweeney Todd”


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Story by Stephanie Hall | Contributing Writer

Photos by Ethan Pickering | Lifestyles Editor

The demon barber of Fleet Street sailed into the Tucker Theatre at Middle Tennessee State University. From Nov. 4 to Nov. 7, students could witness the tale of Sweeny Todd by MTSU Theatre and Dance.  

The show was directed by both Kristi Shamburger (a professor of theatre) and Will Perkins (an assistant professor of voice and opera). Together, the two brought a classic show to life that was thrilling to watch. 

Before the show even started, two actors came out and began digging a hole on stage. Behind them, there was a large sheet with a drawing of “The British Beehive” (by George Cruikshank), illustrating the social hierarchy of Victorian England. This acted as sort of a curtain and was brought down again after Act 1.

Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd during the number “By the Sea”

It opens with the towns people singing the tale of Sweeney Todd. They are interrupted by Sweeney Todd himself (played by Max Fleishhacker) crawling out from the orchestra pit. 

The role of Sweeney Todd is very demanding and Fleishhacker did a Broadway level performance. While he did abandon the British accent part of the way through Act 2, his rendition of “Pretty Women” with Tyler Middleton (who played Judge Turpin) was my favorite part of the show. The intensity of the scene had me on the edge of my seat.  

Of course, Mrs. Lovett (played by Sandy Flavin) was one of the funniest characters on stage. Many of her lines got the biggest laughs of the night. Her performance of “A Little Priest” was morbidly entertaining. 

My favorite performance of the night goes to Johanna (played by Jaedyn Heil). Everything from her voice to her costume was beautiful. The scene where Johanna was in the mental asylum was terrifying, and I loved every second of it.  

The orchestra was amazing. There were times where they overpowered the vocals, but they sounded good. The brass especially did an outstanding job.  

Max Fleischhacker as Sweeney Todd.

Mr. Pirelli (played by Alex Baldwin) and his assistant Tobias (played by Cameron Roberts) were excellent during “Pirelli’s Miracle Elixer/ The Contest.” They were a fun duo on stage, and it almost made me wish that Pirelli did get murdered in the next scene.  

The best part of the show though was the trap door. Every time Sweeney would kill someone in his chair, their dead body would be sent down the shoot. It was incredible to watch as he pulled the lever and the dead body slid out of sight. 

For the first musical of the school year, I think it was great. I hope we get to see more shows like “Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street” on campus.  

If you would like to see more from them, they have more shows for this school year.

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