Sweeney Todd swaps tradition setting for futuristic


Jen Gouchoe , Web Features Editor

England is in ruins. It’s year 2049, and the upper and lower classes have just had a massive nuclear war, wiping out a large portion of the population. The two classes are more divided than ever, leaving England in a post-apocalyptic mess.

It’s the perfect setting for a revenge-seeking, throat-slitting barber to murder some innocent people.

“Sweeney Todd,” which was originally written to take place in 19th century England, is a musical loved by many theater fanatics since its first performance in 1979. Staples Players has adapted to a futuristic setting: the year 2049.

“We wanted to spice it up a bit,” assistant director Vig Namasivayam ’16 said.

After doing “Hello, Dolly!,” the Players decided they didn’t want to do two plays set in the 1800’s back- to -back, hence the futuristic approach to the play.

Everett Sussman ’15, who plays Sweeney Todd, said that his “character still has the same basic principles, and the storyline remains pretty much intact. I feel that the futuristic adaption will most affect the set design and costumes etc. rather than the characters.”

Instead of altering the musical, the design of the costumes and set will be much different compared to the original.

“It’s going to be very grungy and post-apocalyptic, which is so different from anything we’ve done recently, especially after the bright and cheerful set of ‘Hello, Dolly!,’” ensemble member Colin McKechnie ’17 said.

Although it hasn’t been too difficult adapting the play to this new setting, keeping the script the same will be their biggest challenge.

“We’re going to have some problems with realism when bringing the show together,” Namasivayam explained. “It just has to be believable in the realm of the play.”

Because they are keeping all the lines the same, the language that was used in the 1800’s is still being used in the year 2049.

However, adapting the musical hasn’t been the most difficult part of the process.

“Sweeney Todd is super music heavy, and the music is so difficult,” ensemble member Zoe Fox ’16 said. “There are a lot of different rhythms, harmonies and parts that change and overlap in just one song. It was all difficult to learn at first, but once you get it down, it’s hard to forget.”

McKechnie added that they’ve been using a program called Rehearse Score, which has the musical accompaniment to each song, to practice their parts.

So far, the show has been running very smoothly, but the constant snow days have put stress on the players.

“Snow days have impacted the time we have to stage stuff, but we used those days to individually go over music, which is helpful for when we get back to rehearsal because we know our stuff better,” Fox said.

Despite some challenges along the way, the Staples Players have been working hard, to make this unique play the best it can be.

“We’re all really determined to put up the best show we can,” Fox said, “as always.”