Behind the Barber's Chair: "Sweeney Todd"

April 5, 2016
Opera and Lyric Theatre to present "Sweeney Todd"

Hear from some of the students performing in Ohio State’s Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street this weekend.

The fully orchestrated production is accompanied by the Ohio State Symphony Orchestra with a pre-concert lecture 45 minutes prior to each performance.

Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Friday - Saturday, April 8 - 9  •  7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 10  •  3 p.m.


Tickets available at wexarts.org or 614-292-3535. All seats reserved.

Contains violence; not suitable for under age 13.


Joshua CookJoshua Cook

Vocal Performance
From Worthington, Ohio

Who is your character and what do you want the audience to know about him?
I play Sweeney Todd. Beyond the hardened nature of Todd, there is a noticeable fragility to his human condition. Todd was trampled by Man's inhumanity to Man through Judge Turpin's lust for Lucy. Yet Todd's survival and perseverance in the story, fueled by his vengeance and love, gives a frightening glimpse into a darkness that lies in all of us.

Is there a particular challenge to playing this role?
Yes, everything. I'll have just turned 22 when I perform Todd. The depth of character demanded by Sondheim is immense, not to mention the vocal and musical demands of the role. Spanning over 2 octaves, Todd requires a potent, purposeful intensity and economy of means while employing dramatic gesture and navigating periods of manic shouting, homicidal whispering and profound despair, rounded out by a deranged sense of dark humor.

What's the best thing about performing this Sondheim classic?
I first watched Sweeney Todd on DVD as an 11-year-old, starring George Hearn and Angela Lansbury. I had always enjoyed singing and playing piano but that was the moment I knew, even as a child, that I would pursue a career in the arts. The show consumed my life, constantly watching the same production and playing the soundtrack as I fell asleep each night. My parents must have been driven mad. Although Sweeney Todd is a daunting role, I knew from the moment I accepted Todd it may be the only chance I ever have behind that barber chair. Throwing myself with a sense of purposeful abandon at this monumental role is thrilling and liberating as both an individual and an artist.

What other roles have you played at Ohio State?
I performed the role of Figaro in the Beaumarchais Trilogy, Jimmy Powers in City of Angels.

Kate MerrymanKate Merryman

MA Vocal Pedagogy
From Reston, Virginia

Who is your character and what do you want the audience to know about her?
I play the role of Johanna Barker. She is extremely fun to play. I see her as naive, charming, yet spunky and fervid.

Is there a particular challenge to playing this role?
The fast-paced words! This music is sophisticated and beautiful, but also challenging.

What's the best thing about performing this Sondheim classic?
I have always wanted to perform in Sweeney Todd. Plus, this cast is amazing!

What other roles have you played at Ohio State?
I played the role of Susanna in scenes from The Guilty Mother, written by A. Scott Parry and Lawrence Rush.

Lauren DoucetLauren Doucet

MA, Vocal Pedagogy
From Rochester, Michigan

Who is your character and what do you want the audience to know about her?
I'm playing The Beggar Woman. She appears to be just a crazy lady that no one cares about, however, as the story unfolds she proves to be an integral role in the show.

Is there a particular challenge to playing this role?
Her character is quite complex, vocally and dramatically. It's been a challenging, but rewarding, experience portraying her.

What's the best thing about performing this Sondheim classic?
I have always wanted to perform Sondheim. His musicals are exhilarating and powerful for both the performer and audience. Sweeney Todd is a masterpiece and I'm privileged to be a part of it!

What other roles have you played at Ohio State?
This fall I was in a Kurt Weill Cabaret and I also played Léon in the premiere performance of The Guilty Mother, featured in an opera scenes program.

Mark ThressMark Thress

First year MM in Vocal Performance and the Singing Health Specialization
From Chalfont, Pennsylvania

Who is your character and what do you want the audience to know about him?
The character that I am portraying in Sweeney Todd is Anthony Hope. Anthony is a sailor who has just recently been acquainted with Sweeney Todd prior to the opening scene. His personality could be described as excitable, naive and impulsive.

Is there a particular challenge to playing this role?
I would say the challenge with Anthony's character is maintaining the energy of his spirit as well as keeping the integrity of his youth.

What's the best thing about performing this Sondheim classic?
Performing Sweeney Todd is very special, and when you finally get everything learned, memorized, and staged, you truly feel accomplished. This work is a masterpiece, and not something that should be taken lightly. When the production finally comes together, it is truly an amazing feeling of success and a humbling opportunity to perform.

What other roles have you played at Ohio State?
In my first semester at Ohio State, I performed as Almaviva in selected scenes from Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville).