A night spent with Sweeney Todd

sweeney400The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater theatre department put together Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street for their first production of the 2016 spring semester.

The show opened Tuesday Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and continued every night until Saturday Feb. 27, with the guidance from director and professor Jim Butchart.

Butchart started teaching at Whitewater in 1989 and his first production was in 1990. His goal for the first show and every show after has been to keep with the playwright’s original intentions. He wants to tell the story for the audience as best he can.

“Every audience deserves the best that we have and I expect that for every performance,” Butchart said.

Sweeney Todd is a musical thriller written by Hugh Wheeler in 1979. It takes place in 19 century London, England. The whole performance was about three hours with a 15-minute intermission.

This production is performed by students on campus, ranging from freshmen to seniors. Auditions were held in Nov. of last year, while rehearsals began on Jan. 11, during the university’s winter break.

Though design meetings began in Oct. Butchart said. He also mentioned that during a professional production rehearsals are three to four weeks for 40 hours per week. This production did not have as much time during the week to rehearse, but did start much earlier than a professional.

When there is a musical there is also dancing, but every dance, every step needs to be choreographed for the performers. Eric Guenthner, senior at Whitewater, is the choreographer for Sweeney Todd.

Guenthner is one of many who worked on the production. There were 31 student performers, three assistant stage managers three people handling props and many more behind the scenes team members.

Maria Vigueras, a junior at Whitewater, attended opening night and was expecting a well put on show. She had not known what the story was before coming to the theatre and expressed her excitement to see the students perform.

Juan Herrera chose to admire the set that filled the stage when he first walked into the theatre. He had heard excellent comments and hoped they would follow the storyline, which was expected.

At the end of the show both Vigueras and Herrera had smiles on their faces. They had good things to say, though Vigueras did have one compliant about it.

“The should definitely keep it two hours at least,” Vigueras said.

In the beginning Vigueras was looking forward to seeing the students “doing what they love to do,” and she was pleased with it at the end.

The next performance for the theatre department is A Midsummer Night’s Dream April 25 through April 30.

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