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Northwestern Presents Musical Thriller 'Sweeny Todd'

Performances will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 9.

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October 22, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Theatre and Interpretation Center (TIC) at Northwestern University is celebrating the start of its 2008-09 season with the Tony Award-winning musical thriller "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler.

Performances will be held at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31; 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2; 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6; 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7; 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9, in the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus.

From an adaptation by Christopher Bond, Sondheim and Wheeler's exhilarating ride of music, song and spectacle is based on the 19th century legend of Sweeney Todd. Returning home after 15 years in the Australian penal colonies on false charges, Todd joins forces with the owner of the worst meat pie shop in London to seek revenge on those who have wronged him. The results of this dark plot are mass murder, a booming meat pie business and grave misfortune.

Many theater fans have seen the original 1979 Broadway stage production of "Sweeney Todd," the 2005 Broadway revival, or Tim Burton's macabre 2007 film with Johnny Depp in the title role, however, director George Cederquist is taking a different approach to the TIC production.

"While 'bloodiness' is a major part of the storytelling, each murder is done in a very abstract and theatrical way that builds the suspense," says Cederquist. "The theme that we are focusing on is 'obsession,' specifically on what acts of violence does one commit when one is obsessed and how does one justify those acts. Our production explores the logic behind obsession. It is a version of 'Sweeney Todd' that's never been done before."

The 25-member student cast includes undergraduate theatre majors from the School of Communication, as well as undergraduate voice students from the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music. The musical is set in the Edwardian era and features long sequences of dreams, fantasies and fetishes. The music is classical and operatic, with haunting melodies and witty and emotional lyrics that will be performed by a live eight-piece orchestra.

Cederquist is a graduate student at Northwestern's School of Communication who is taking some classes at the Bienen School of Music. He has directed professionally in Chicago for six years.

The production is best-suited for teenagers and adults. It is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).

Single tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for seniors aged 65 and older, Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators and administrators; and $10 for children and full-time students. For tickets, call the Theatre and Interpretation Center Box Office at (847) 491-7282 or visit http://www.tic.northwestern.edu to order tickets online.