Sweeney Todd sets up shop at Mark A. Chapman Theatre

Elise Poehling, senior in musical theater, rehearses the muscial part of her role in Sweeney Todd, Mrs. Lovett, in Nichols Hall on Tuesday night, Sept. 16, 2014. (Hannah Hunsinger | The Collegian)

Ever wonder what it is like to have a homicidal barber live just down the road? The cast and crew of K-State’s production of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” are finding that out right now – on stage, of course.

Auditions for the fall musical were held the first week of this semester and everyone involved in the project has been working studiously since. Over the following months, countless hours of singing, passion, frustration, dancing, costume design, acting and overall hard work came together to create a musical experience for the K-State and Manhattan community.

“There is a lot of paperwork at the start: rehearsal schedules, contact information, attendance sheets … everything must be ready before we can start rehearsals,” Emily White, senior in theater and the production’s stage manager, said. “The first two weeks are all about the music and the measuring. There is a lot of (mundane) behind-the-scenes before we can begin the fun and, in this case, scary part.”

“Sweeney Todd” is the story of how the title character and local barber Todd (played by Donovan Woods, senior in applied music) seeks revenge on the judge who falsely incarcerated him so many years ago. However, the tale takes a twist when Todd’s thirst for blood turns to his unfortunate customers.

According to Woods, the show is dark and aimed towards adults rather than children.

“I am hoping (the audience) will react frightened,” Woods said. “I think that it is cool that we are doing a show that is not happy-go-lucky. I love the grittiness and dirtiness of it. It will be an entertaining show and we are hoping the public will respond well, but it will be somewhat terrifying.”

This will be the final show for director Charlotte MacFarland, associate professor of music, theater and dance, who has directed K-State productions for over 30 years.

“Everyone is really excited,” MacFarland said. “It is such a difficult show and the whole cast is scared because we are really taking it out there; the concept is that everyone is in hell. It takes everything out of you. The show is heavyweight and the music is incredibly difficult and profound. It is demented, it will be intimate and very frightening. People can relate to the darkness in some ways and possibly have their own epiphany like Todd experiences in the show.”

MacFarland said the musical will be deep and evoke a plethora of emotions from the audience.

“There will be lights, steam, smoke and blood,” MacFarland said. “There will be hate, anger, no mercy and no justice. Windows will be dripping blood and people will die, but it will be beautiful to watch. But don’t worry; there will be humor in the show too!”

The cast and crew of “Sweeney Todd” leaves you with one question: “Are you brave enough to enter hell with us?”

“Sweeney Todd” will be performed at the Mark. A Chapman Theatre in Nichols Hall this Thursday through Saturday and Nov. 13-16.