Stephen Sondheim’s chilling musical, “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” will be staged July 20-29 by the College of Lake County departments of theatre, music and dance. It features a stellar cast of 44 and a professional orchestra of 18, including Ross Kugman of Lake Forest in the role of Anthony.
This heart-pounding, Tony Award-winning thriller has been hailed a musical masterpiece. It tells the tale of an unjustly-accused man transformed by grief into the murderous Demon Barber of Fleet Street. After 15 years in exile, Benjamin Barker returns to London under the new identity of Sweeney Todd, seeking to punish those who took away his beloved family. Sweeney and his enterprising accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, cook up a shocking plan packed full of sweet revenge and deliciously dark humor.
The show is based on a version of “Sweeney Todd” by Christopher Bond. Music and lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim, and the book is by Hugh Wheeler. The CLC production is being directed by Craig Rich, with musical direction by Jean Hersey, orchestral direction by Paul Hefner and choreography by Lamaiya Lancaster.
Rich said audiences are really in for a theatrical and musical treat with “Sweeney Todd.”
“People are so passionate about Stephen Sondheim and many consider his work to be the pinnacle of contemporary musical theatre,” Rich said. “I’ve always respected the richness and complexity of Sondheim, but absolutely fell in love with his work the first time I staged it. I directed ‘A Little Night Music’ about ten years ago at Western Illinois University and have been a devoted Sondheim fan ever since. We are extremely excited and honored to be presenting ‘Sweeney Todd’ at CLC this summer. The score is breathtaking. The story is full of thrills and chills, romance and suspense, comedy and tragedy. ‘Sweeney Todd’ is brilliant in every way. Our very talented cast, orchestra and production team have been working long hours to make this a theatrical event not to be missed.”
“Sweeney Todd” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on July 20, 21, 27 and 28 and at 2 p.m. on July 22 and 29 in the Mainstage Theatre of the James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts on the CLC Grayslake campus, 19351 W. Washington St.
David Lundholm of Waukegan, who performs the title role, works as a costume designer and performer at Six Flags Great America, where he says he has played Dracula in the park’s annual Fright Fest “close to 1,000 times.” Lundholm has 30 years of theatre experience, including professional roles at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, the Apple Tree Theatre in Highland Park and Drury Lane South in Evergreen Park. He has also performed at theme parks in Georgia and Tennessee in addition to Six Flags in Gurnee. This is his first show at College of Lake County.
“This is definitely a ‘bucket list’ moment for me. It is a show/role I have wanted to play since I was a teenager, listening to the original cast recording on cassette tape,” Lundholm said. “This role is arguably one of Sondheim’s most difficult male roles. On the surface there is a lot of anger and resentment… his obsessive need for revenge. As an actor, I find the challenge lies in finding the humanity in Sweeney Todd. The hurt. The sadness. The longing for the life that was taken away from him. And although his actions are unconscionable and his behavior deplorable, the audience should, by the end, have some empathy for this man,” Lundholm said.
Kelley Combs of Mundelein plays the scheming Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd’s landlady. She also said this is a “bucket list” role for her.
“I have wanted to play the role of Mrs. Lovett since I saw my sister as Johanna in ‘Sweeney Todd’ when she was 16,” Combs said. She earned a B.A. in communication from Western Illinois University and an M.A. in teaching/elementary education from National Louis University. Combs works as a special education teacher, and this is her first CLC production.
This show and Sondheim music are familiar, as Combs sung in the show’s ensemble as a Western Illinois student. She also performed in a Sondheim Revue called “You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow” at Elgin Community College.
“The show is very challenging, but the creative team and the cast have been great,” Combs said. “I have learned so much about music and performance from Jean Hersey. Craig Rich has helped me grow as a performer by allowing me the autonomy to discover who Mrs. Lovett is and also by providing great insight when I am struggling to find her. The cast has a wide range of ages and experience, but they are all extremely talented. When I was at call backs, I was so impressed with the amount of talent.”
Dino and Mario Mazzetti -- a pair of brothers from Lake Zurich who have had leads in past CLC summer musicals – are enjoying performing villainous roles of The Beadle (Dino) and Adolfo Pirelli (Mario). Dino appeared in last year’s “Oliver!” as Mr. Bumble, and Mario starred in CLC’s “Urinetown” as Bobby Strong in 2010 and as Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors” in 2008. They last appeared together in a production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in 2009 and relish the chance to work together again.
“We sing a little snippet together in the final number,” Mario said. “It’s crazy high and I sing an intense harmony under his melody. It’s really fun, especially since it’s so difficult. It’s always fun to perform with Dino because we have very similar senses of humor and since we both have a music background, we help each other with our skills. Dino is really talented and is perfectly cast as the Beadle. I knew he’d get the part and I thought it would be fun to do a show together again.”
Mario graduated from Lake Forest College in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in theatre and English. He sings with the Invox A Cappella, a Chicago ensemble.
Dino Mazzetti teaches music at Nippersink Middle School in Richmond. He received a bachelor’s degree in vocal music education from Millikin University in Decatur. “I was attracted to this show because the talent and creativity of the directors, the intensity of the music and the complexity of the story line,” he said. “Also, I have always wanted to play a villain and I really like the vocal range of the character.”
“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” CLC cast list
Sweeney Todd: David Lundholm (Waukegan); Mrs. Lovett: Kelley Combs (Mundelein); Anthony Hope: Ross Kugman (Lake Forest); Johanna: Emily Chidlow (Palatine); Tobias Ragg: Mac Myles (Lake Bluff); Judge Turpin: Chris Warren (McHenry); The Beadle: Dino Mazzetti (Lake Zurich); Beggar Woman: Lindsey Yates-Badtke (Antioch); Adolfo Pirelli: Mario Mazzetti (Lake Zurich).
Ensemble Women (* denotes soloist)
Amy Alderson (Gurnee), Mary Clare Becks * (Barrington), Julie Brouton (Round Lake Beach), Chelsea Doyle (Mundelein), Emilia Dvorak (Long Grove), Aracely Garza (Mundelein), Stacy Goebel * (Round Lake), Lizzy Haberstroh (Vernon Hills), Alyssa Klein (Grayslake), Marita Kovarik * (Mundelein), Adelle McDaniel (Wauconda), Mary K. Nicholas (Palatine), Allie Noland (Lake Zurich), Liza Passalino * (Lake Forest), Holly Robertson (Grayslake), Ashley Rodriguez * (Hainesville), Christy Scriba (Evanston), Jessica Shryock (Third Lake), Rebecca Van Sickel (Mundelein), Susana Velasco (Lake Villa), Sheri Warren* (McHenry).
Ensemble Men (* denotes soloist)
Robert Bock* (Lake Villa), David Brown* (Kenosha, WI), Moises Diaz (Waukegan), Michael Dvorak* (Long Grove), Carl E. Johnson* (Waukegan), Joe Lewis* (Glenview), Daniel Mendoza* (Waukegan), Gregory A. Nevil* (Waukegan), Alex Nicodemus (Grayslake), Bryan Nolte (Mundelein), Andrew Piechota* (Lake Forest), Evan Szewc (Round Lake Beach), Robert Williams (Waukegan), Jeff Wright (Lake Villa).
Tickets: $16 General Admission; $13 for CLC/Senior/JLC Subscribers. An opening night special ticket price of $10 will be offered for Friday, July 20 to all CLC Students, Staff and Alumni. Prices include a $1 per ticket JLC facility fee. Box Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Order your tickets today by calling the JLC Box Office: at (847) 543-2300 or online at www.clcillinois.edu/tickets.
Note: This production contains mature themes, including sexuality and violence, and is not appropriate for children age 12 and under. For more information, contact director Craig Rich at email@example.com or (847) 543-2567.