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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
A&E >  Entertainment

Stage Left places its own stamp on Sweeney Todd

Feb. 2, 2023 Updated Thu., Feb. 2, 2023 at 4:05 p.m.

By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

Packing big shows in a small space isn’t easy. “But we’re known for doing it,” Stage Left Artistic Director Jeremy Whittington said. “We just finished ‘Rocky Horror’ and that turned out well.”

The next challenge for Whittington and director Troy Nickerson is “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” which opens Friday and runs through February 26 at Stage Left Theater. This highly anticipated show is already sold out for its entire run.

“We just try to get really creative with something like Sweeney Todd and have fun with it and we make it so we don’t feel cramped in our space,” Whittington said “It makes us think outside of the box and when you do that, it gets really interesting.”

The trick Whittington and Nickerson pull off is making “Sweeney Todd” like a hybrid of the 1800s and the contemporary. “We reimagine things and try to make it of a certain time,” Whittington said. “We present it in a rickety, ominous and beautiful manner.”

The costumes and clothing don’t reveal an exact period. Nickerson sets the mood with a mix of colors and tones and so the Stage Left production is timeless.

“It’s not an easy thing to pull off,” Whittington said. “But we’re giving it our best shot.”

“Sweeney Todd” is an acclaimed horror musical featuring a deranged barber. The lurid story dates back to 1846 as part of the penny dreadful serial “The String of Pearls.”

“The combination of great storytelling and some of Stephen Sondheim’s best and most difficult work make ‘Sweeney Todd’ so special,” Whittingham said.

The story sets “Sweeney Todd” apart and enabled it to become a Broadway and West End smash. “A play about love, revenge and mistaken identity makes it amazing,” Nickerson said. “It has everything that you love about theater. And then when you add Sondheim to the mix, it’s a glorious piece of art.”

Nickerson is a long time fan of “Sweeney Todd,” who caught the Broadway production with Tony and Grammy Award winning actress-vocalist Patti Lupone in 2006. “Patti Lupone was as great as you would expect,” Nickerson said. “I enjoyed seeing ‘Sweeney Todd’ on Broadway, but I love what we’re doing here with this production. When you get your cast, your people, you create your vision. This story has been written, but you want to be creative and so much of it has to do with our cast, which is phenomenal. This will blow people away from the opening number onward. I believe we have something special with our Sweeney Todd.”

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