Sweeney Todd

Sponsored by

  • The Schiewetz Foundation
  • Dr. Robert L. Brandt, Jr. MD
  • Matthew J. Scarr, CPA LLC
  • Larry S. Glickler — Glickler Funeral Home

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

A Musical Thriller

music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
book by Hugh Wheeler
from an adaptation by Christopher Bond
directed by Scott Stoney
music direction by Sean Michael Flowers
choreography by Tracey Bonner

September 8 – October 2, 2016

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd, a barber unjustly imprisoned by corrupt Judge Turpin, who returns to 19th century London fifteen years later to take his revenge on the man who took him from his wife and young daughter. Todd’s need for vengeance becomes indiscriminately murderous—and profitable—when he partners with the unscrupulous Mrs. Lovett and opens his new barber practice above her failing meat pie shop. With his busy straight razors and her new secret ingredient, their fame grows until Todd comes face to face with the judge. Can he avenge his family before their dastardly deeds are uncovered?

Run time: 2 hours 40 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission

Sponsored by

  • The Schiewetz Foundation
  • Dr. Robert L. Brandt, Jr. MD
  • Matthew J. Scarr, CPA LLC
  • Larry S. Glickler — Glickler Funeral Home

Performance Schedule

  • Sun
  • Mon
  • Tue
  • Wed
  • Thu
  • Fri
  • Sat
  • Sun Oct 02
  • MonOct 03
  • MonOct 04
  • MonOct 05
  • MonOct 06
  • MonOct 07
  • MonOct 08

Special Performance Legend

ai

Audio Described / Sign Interpreted performance (available with two weeks notice)

it

Inside Track pre-show discussion, begins in the Loft lobby at 7:15 pm

lf

Lite Fare food and drink available for sale in the Loft lobby starting at 5:30 pm

on

Opening Night with post-show cast party in the Loft Lobby

pp

Thursday night Preview Performance

sb

Sawbuck Sunday, all available seats just $10 at the door starting 2 hours prior to performance

tb

Talk Back: “While We’re on the Subject” post-show discussion (following the matinee performance)

Creative Team

Stephen Sondheim • Music and Lyrics

Mr. Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for Saturday Night, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, The Frogs, Pacific Overtures, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins, Passion and Road Show as well as lyrics for West Side Story, Gypsy and Do I Hear a Waltz and additional lyrics for Candide. Anthologies of his work include Side by Side by Sondheim, Marry Me a Little, You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow, Putting It Together and Sondheim on Sondheim. He composed the scores of the films Stavisky and Reds and songs for Dick Tracy and the television production “Evening Primrose.” His collected lyrics with attendant essays have been published in two volumes: “Finishing the Hat” (2010) and “Look, I Made a Hat” (2011). In 2010 the Broadway theater formerly known as Henry Miller’s Theatre was renamed in his honor.

Hugh Wheeler • Book

Mr. Wheeler was a novelist, playwright and screen writer. He wrote more than thirty mystery novels under the pseudonyms Q. Patrick and Patrick Quentin, and four of his novels were transformed into films: Black Widow, Man in the Net, The Green-Eyed Monster and The Man with Two Wives. For films he wrote the screenplays for Travels with My Aunt, Something for Everyone, A Little Night Music and Nijinsky. His plays include Big Fish, Little Fish; Look: We’ve Come Through and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (adapted from the Shirley Jackson novel), he co-authored with Joseph Stein the book for a new production of the 1919 musical Irene, wrote the books for A Little Night Music, a new production of Candide and Meet Me in St. Louis (adapted from the 1949 MGM musical), contributed additional material for the musical Pacific Overtures and wrote a new adaptation of the Kurt Weill opera Silverlake, which was directed by Harold Prince at the New York Opera. He received Tony and Drama Desk Awards for A Little Night Music, Candide and Sweeney Todd. Prior to his death in 1987, Mr. Wheeler was working on two new musicals, Bodo and Fu Manchu, and a new adaptation of The Merry Widow.

Scott Stoney+ • Director

Scott Stoney+ • Director

Scott is very grateful to have spent his theatre career (over 45 years) bouncing back and forth between acting and directing. His directing credits include Master Class; Crowns (with fellow artist Debbie Blunden-Diggs); Caroline, or Change and Next to Normal at the Victoria Theatre; August: Osage County in collaboration with Wright State University; Mame as Associate Director with Director Kevin Moore and Alice in Wonderland for Zoot Theatre Company. Other favorites include Man of La Mancha, The Spitfire Grill, and Torch Song Trilogy. Scott has also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Montgomery County Arts & Cultural District and is in the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame.

Sean Michael Flowers+ • Music Director/Conductor

Sean Michael Flowers+ • Music Director/Conductor

Sean’s music direction has been heard in cabarets, concerts and musicals in regional theatres to Off-Broadway houses, from New York to Nashville to Singapore to Las Vegas. This year he returned as the vocal director and pianist for the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s Best of Broadway II concert, was an artist in residence and guest lecturer at Lasalle School of the Arts in Singapore, where he conducted Cabaret. He music directed The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical and Master Class at The Race, and sat at the musical helm for Rochester Broadway Theatre League’s and the Victoria Theatre Association’s summer educational programs. He proudly celebrates 15 years as a Resident Artist with The Human Race.

Tracey Bonner • Choreographer

Tracey Bonner • Choreographer

Tracey is thrilled to be a part of Sweeney Todd at The Human Race and play with all the wonderfully talented artists in the cast and behind the scenes. This is Tracey’s third production with HRTC, having been onstage in The Full Monty, serving as Choreographer for Best of Broadway II with the Dayton Symphony, and now as Choreographer for Sweeney Todd. Tracey currently serves as Dance Coordinator at NKU, and is an active choreographer, director, and performer in various regional and national venues. BFA: Shenandoah Conservatory, MFA: University of California, Irvine. Actor Highlights: touring/regional companies of A Chorus Line, Show Boat, West Side Story, Sweet Charity, Crazy for You, South Pacific, …Forum, and The Full Monty (HRTC). Director/Choreographer Highlights: Productions of Rent!, Footloose, Chess, Urinetown, Dames at Sea, 42nd Street, Reefer Madness, Cabaret, Eubie!, and multiple productions of West Side Story, and Into the Woods, as well as working with the famous Rockettes. Recently named an Al Smith Artistic Fellow by the Kentucky Arts Council, for her work as a concert choreographer, marrying dance and social justice, she will serve in this capacity through July 2017. Tracey continues to equally pursue dance concert arts and theatrical arts simultaneously, and is in the beginning stages of writing her first book about commercial dance! (She gets bored easily.) Thanks to Scott, Kevin, Sean, Tara, Preston, and the whole gang at Human Race for picking me to play on your team! www.traceybonner.com

Dan Gray • Scenic Designer

Dan happily rejoins The Human Race for Sweeney Todd. Other recent HRTC credits include Taking Shakespeare; It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play; Caroline, or Change; Moonlight & Magnolias; Ears on a Beatle and Romeo and Juliet. Dan’s other regional theatre credits include numerous designs for The George Street Playhouse, Capital Rep, Players Theatre Columbus, the Delaware Theatre Company and CATCO. He also designs for many Central Ohio companies including: BalletMet, Opera Columbus, The Dayton Ballet and The Columbus Symphony. Dan is the Resident Scenic Designer and an Associate Professor at The Ohio State University Department of Theatre.

Janet G. Powell • Costume Designer

Janet’s costuming credits for The Human Race Theatre Company include two In-School Tours: A Dickens of a Time and Belch, Bottom and the Boys, and main stage productions of One Slight Hitch, Steel Magnolias, The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical, Family Shots (world premiere), Taking Shakespeare (Midwest premiere), Other Desert Cities, Torch Song Trilogy, Avenue Q, Band Geeks!, 8 Track, Permanent Collection and The 39 Steps. She costumed Boeing Boeing and Parade, both joint productions of CCM and The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center. She is a retired Norwood City Schools artistic director/teacher where she directed, designed, and costumed over 150 shows. She is thankful to her husband and children for putting up with many years of theatrical insanity.

John Rensel+ • Lighting Designer

John is the long-term Resident Lighting Designer for The Human Race Theatre Company, Muse Machine, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Pops series and Dayton Opera Association. He also serves as the long-time Technical Director for the Fraze Pavilion and has provided technical advance production coordination, lighting designs, automation programming and performance operation services for many artists and productions that have visited that venue. John also has a diverse dance lighting background, having provided lighting designs and technical production services for many years to The Dayton Ballet and Dayton Contemporary Dance Co. John’s national credits included a lighting design package for a National Touring Production of the Elton John/Tim Rice collaboration Aida. Some of his most recent local credits include all the designs for the 2015-16 Human Race Theatre Company’s season at the Loft Theatre; Muse Machine’s productions at the Victoria Theatre and the Dayton Opera Association’s 2015-16 season at the Schuster Center. John freely admits that he often loses his copies of the shows’ scripts.

Jay Brunner+ • Sound Designer

Jay Brunner+ • Sound Designer

Jay is a HRTC veteran and Resident Artist. Sound Design/Original Composition credits: Master Class; The Glass Menagerie; The Santaland Diaries; The Full Monty; Taking Shakespeare; Crowns and others. Music Director/Musician credits: Fiddler on the Roof; Mame; Play It by Heart; Next to Normal; Avenue Q; and Red-Blooded, All-American Man as Sound Designer/Conductor/Co-Music Director/Guitarist/Arranger (take your pick). Jay has designed sound/incidental music for countless voiceovers, regional commercials, radio spots, training videos, collegiate theatre projects, marching bands, clubs, and organizations, as well as conjuring sound at many venues throughout the region. He owns/runs a professional recording studio (Ardmore Underground) with his wife, fellow HRTC Resident Artist Christine Brunner.

Kristin A. Sutter* • Production Stage Manager

Kristin is an Ohio native and Wright State graduate. Previous HRTC credits: Master Class; Avenue Q; Race; Lombardi; Band Geeks!; Caroline; or Change. National Tours: Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Sweet Charity. Regional: Footloose, Dames at Sea, The Fantasticks, The Marvelous Wonderettes, Godspell, …Spelling Bee (WV Public Theatre), Crazy for You, Bonnie & Clyde (Ocean Professional Theatre Co.). New York: The Servant of Two Masters (Sonnet Rep) Love Quirks. Other: Grease (Reno, NV), Ring of Fire (Laguna Beach, CA), Buddy (Ontario, Canada). Many thanks to family and friends for supporting my adventures. Rave on!

Preston D. McCarthy* • Assistant Stage Manager

Preston currently serves full-time as Company Manager for The Human Race Theatre Company. Professional credits include: Stage Manager for the 2015 Festival of New Works production of Mann…and Wife, the 2014 HRTC Musical Theatre Workshop production of Molly Sweeney: A Musical, Assistant Stage Manager for The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical, Mame and Play It by Heart with HRTC, the 2014 National Tour of Sweet Charity, Stage Manager for Children of Eden at Interlochen Center for the Arts, as well as Production Assistant for Avenue Q, Under A Red Moon, Managing Maxine and Gem of the Ocean, all with HRTC. Namaste!

Cast

Jamie Cordes*+ • Sweeney Todd

Jamie Cordes*+ • Sweeney Todd

Recent Human Race Theatre performances include: Harold in The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical, Beauregard J.P. Burnside in Mame, Ed in Torch Song Trilogy, and Dan in Next to Normal. Other regional productions: LaMarcus in Guarding Gold Street (The Puzzle NYC), Gaston Lachaille in Gigi (Rockwell Productions), Man 1 in Oh, Coward! (Ohio Shakespeare Festival), Ben Stone in Follies in Concert (Short North Stage), and Frederick Fellowes in Noises Off (Theatre on the Hill). It is an honor to return to Fleet Street 20 years later graduating from Anthony Hope to Sweeney Todd to kick off HRTC’s 30th anniversary season. Jamie is a proud Human Race Resident Artist and a Senior Lecturer at Wright State University. Many thanks to HRTC, Scott, Kevin, Tara, Sean and my lovely wife, Marya!

Gina Handy* • Ensemble

Gina Handy* • Ensemble

Gina is returning to HRTC after last being seen in The Full Monty. Favorite regional credits include: The Book of Merman (Evolution Theatre Company), Sunset Blvd and The Full Monty (Short North Stage), Nunsense and Anything Goes (Arizona Broadway Theatre) Company, Les Misérables, Thoroughly Modern Millie, How the Other Half Loves (Phoenix Theatre), Seussical (Childsplay) 42nd Street and Swing! (Little Theatre on the Square), and the national tours of A Christmas Carol and Tomas and the Library Lady. She is the theatre magnet director at Stivers School for the Arts and the founding artistic director of Magnolia Theatre Company in Dayton. She has a BFA in musical theatre from Mars Hill University.

Drew Helton* • Ensemble

Drew Helton* • Ensemble

Drew is thrilled to be returning to HRTC after appearing in Fiddler on the Roof (Motel)! International Tour: Curious George: The Golden Meatball (TWUSA). Regional and Select Credits: Les Misérables, Into the Woods, Hairspray, Spring Awakening, Seussical the Musical, I Love a Piano, Bernstein’s MASS. Thanks to Kevin, Scott, Sean, the entire cast and crew, and Erin! BFA, Wright State University.

Kimberly Hessler* • Johanna

Kimberly Hessler* • Johanna

Kimberly is a California native who now resides in NYC. Regional credits include: My Fair Lady (Eliza Doolittle), Pride and Prejudice (Mary Bennet), Les Misérables (Cosette), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Olive), The Most Happy Fella (Rosabella), Musical of Musicals (Ingenue), A Little Night Music (Anne), and the World Premiere of The Diary (Anne Frank). Kimberly graduated with a BM in Vocal Arts and a minor in Musical Theatre from The University of Southern California and was a Finalist of LA’s Next Great Stage Star. Love to the Hessler clan for their endless support. khessler.com

Scott Hunt*+ • Jonas Fogg/Ensemble

Scott Hunt*+ • Jonas Fogg/Ensemble

Scott is thrilled to be returning to Fleet Street! A native Daytonian and proud Resident Artist with HRTC, he has appeared in the Broadway and National Touring productions of Rent (Mark Cohen) and Les Misérables (Marius). He was recently seen on the Loft stage as Tom in HRTC’s critically acclaimed production of The Glass Menagerie. Highlights from his twenty year relationship with HRTC include Big River (Huck Finn), Ordinary Days (Warren) and the 1996 production of Sweeney Todd (Tobias) at the Victoria Theatre. Each and every performance dedicated to Charles F. Hardin (1927-99).

David McDonald* • Judge Turpin

David McDonald* • Judge Turpin

David has been a proud member Actors’ Equity for over 35 years. Thrilled to be debuting at The Human Race Theatre! He was a Musical Theatre major at the University of Cincinnati just down the road. Broadway: Les Misérables, Side Show, Mamma Mia, Bye Bye Birdie, Memphis and Doctor Zhivago. Numerous Regional credits. Too many to mention except Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha. Loved that role! Off-Broadway and All My Children on ABC. Love to my family, my Progressive God, Meghan, Alyssa and, of course, Pilar.

Craig McEldowney* • Adolfo Pirelli

Craig McEldowney* • Adolfo Pirelli

Craig is excited to return to Fleet Street! He is a singer, actor and musician currently based in Los Angeles. Recent credits: Peter and the Starcatcher (Black Stache) at Barn Stage, Babes in Arms (Valentine) at Rubicon, A Class Act (Hamlisch) at CV Rep, Sweeney Todd (Beadle) at Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara, Serrano (Papa, et al) at the Matrix, Ragtime (Father) with 3D Theatricals, Show Boat (Ravenal) with Opera San Luis Obispo. Tours: Jesus Christ Superstar (Judas) and Grease (Doody). Proud AEA member and graduate of University of Michigan. Chirp: @craigmceldowney, Click: craigmc.org, Stalk/like/poke: facebook.com/craigmceldowney

Cassi Mikat • Ensemble/Beggar Woman (Understudy)

Cassi Mikat • Ensemble/Beggar Woman (Understudy)

Cassi is thrilled to be returning to The Human Race for the fourth time after being a part of Master Class (Sharon Graham), It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (Jazz Quartet), and The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical (Swing). Cassi is a recent graduate of the Wright State University musical theatre program. Regional and University credits include Sondheim on Sondheim (Barbara Cook track), Les Misérables (Madame Thenardier), Into the Woods (Florinda), South Pacific (Lead Nurse), Harvey (Betty Chumley), and Sweeney Todd (Ensemble). She has also sung in concert with Tony Award-Winner Leslie Uggams. Thanks to everyone at The Human Race!

Nathan Robert Pecchia • Ensemble

Nathan Robert Pecchia • Ensemble

Nathan is very excited to be making his professional acting debut with The Human Race Theatre Company! A current senior in Wright State’s Musical Theatre Acting Program, he has enjoyed many parts on WSU’s stages. Most recently he played “Harold Hill” in WSU’s The Music Man, for which he won an award for “Best Leading Actor in a Musical” by Dayton Most Metro.

DJ Plunkett* • Tobias Ragg

DJ Plunkett* • Tobias Ragg

DJ is thrilled to be back in Ohio. Select Regional credits: Flounder in Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Arkansas Repertory Theatre), Boy Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and Disney’s High School Musical 2 (North Shore Music Theatre) and Huckleberry Finn in Big River (Showboat Majestic). DJ holds a BFA in musical theatre from CCM where he appeared as Michael in Peter Pan and Leaf in …Spelling Bee among others. Film: The Funhouse Massacre. In NYC, he has sung at The Town Hall in the 2015 Broadway Rising Stars concert and has sung backup for various singers at Feinstein’s/54 Below. Thanks to CGF and my amazing family and friends! Proud member of AEA. www.djplunkett.org

David Shough • Bird Seller/Ensemble

David Shough • Bird Seller/Ensemble

Human Race debut. Other recent area roles: John Adams (1776), Joe Alsop (The Columnist), Reverend Moore (Footloose), Arthur (Spamalot), Sidney Bruhl (Deathtrap), the Beast (Beauty and the Beast), Don Quixote (Man of La Mancha), Captain Corcoran (H.M.S. Pinafore), Archibald Craven (The Secret Garden), Emile De Becque (South Pacific), Petruchio (Kiss Me Kate), and the title role in Scrooge!. Directing: Dracula, An Inspector Calls, Outside Mulligar, and The Elephant Man in spring 2017. He is married to former ballerina, now ballet teacher and director, Barbara Pontecorvo. They live in Carlisle with their Great Danes, DonQ and Kitri.

Zack Steele* • Anthony Hope

Zack Steele* • Anthony Hope

Zack is honored to be returning to Dayton for this, his fourth production with The Human Race! A Cincinnati native, Steele graduated with a B.F.A in Acting from Wright State University, and last performed in Ohio on this very stage as Patrick in Mame. Most recently, he completed an international contract aboard Holland America Line’s ms Westerdam as a Principal Singer. Other favorite credits include: Jimmy in Lost Highway (Infinity Theatre), Young Ben in Follies and Warren in Ordinary Days (Short North Stage), Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol (Hanover Theater), Johnny Cash in Ring of Fire and Jackson in Pump Boys and Dinettes (Great Plains), and Dennis in All Shook Up (Arundel Barn Playhouse). He would like to thank his friends, family and mentors for their unrelenting support, without which, this career would never have been possible. Steele is a proud member of Actors’ Equity. www.zacksteele.com

Sherri L. Sutter • Ensemble

Sherri L. Sutter • Ensemble

Sherri is a private singing teacher in Wright State University’s Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures Department. She also serves as coordinator of voice instructors and accompanists. She has music directed recent productions of Spring Awakening, Lippa’s The Wild Party, and The Vanishing Point in the Herbst Theatre, as well as many ArtsGala shows. Her career spans over 30 years and includes directing, music directing, and performing. Past Human Race productions include Baby, Sweeney Todd (Johanna) in 1996, Molly Sweeney, and Mame. Thank you, Kevin, Tara, Scott, and Sean, for this opportunity to visit Fleet Street again!

Aaron Vega* • The Beadle

Aaron Vega* • The Beadle

Aaron is a freelance actor and director who is committed to bringing the audience’s imagination into the theatrical process. His credits range from Shakespeare from NYC to Montana with new in-development plays, big budget musicals, educational tours and puppet shows. He holds a BFA from Wright State University’s PATP, is a founding artist and board member for The Zoot Theatre Company, is the Artistic Director for the production company Eureka Suitcase. He currently lives in NYC his hound dog, Eleanor. AaronVega.com, @BardGeek

Rebecca Watson* • Mrs. Lovett

Rebecca Watson* • Mrs. Lovett

Having grown up in Wooster, Ohio, Rebecca is delighted to be back in the Buckeye state, doing her sixth Sondheim production. Recently she finished Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses with A.C.T. in San Francisco. She’s worked on Broadway with Sir Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber in By Jeeves, and in NYC in The Cocoanuts, Romeo and Juliet, Disney’s Hercules. She’s toured in Moon Over Buffalo, and done World Premieres: To the Lighthouse at Berkeley Rep, And The Curtain Rises at the Signature and I’ll Be Seeing You at the Kimmel Center in PA. Rebecca has worked extensively in regional theatres around the US, including the Shakespeare Theatre in DC (Old Times), Barrington Stage (Ring Round the Moon), Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sunday in the Park with George), Portland Stage (Julius Caesar), Arizona Theatre Co. (Oklahoma! with the Phoenix Symphony), Studio Arena (The Snowball), Goodspeed Opera (Me and My Girl, 1776, Annie Get Your Gun), Pioneer (Much Ado, …Forum), Arkansas Rep. (Into the Woods), and two seasons with Alabama Shakespeare Festival. She can be seen in the Emmy Award winning film The Normal Heart and upcoming films Rapid Eye Movement and The Foster Portfolio, based on the Kurt Vonnegut story. Other film and television credits include Indignation, Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down, Difficult People, Flesh and Bone, MTV’s One Bad Choice, Members Only (pilot), Believe, The Big C, Deception, Law & Order, Third Watch, Cupid, Guiding Light, By Jeeves. www.RebeccaWatson.org

Kandis Wean* • Ensemble

Kandis Wean* • Ensemble

Kandis is very excited to be returning to the HRTC stage! She has appeared in the New Workshops: The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes (Grace) and Love Makes the World Go Round (Anna) with Brad Ellis. NYC credits: Carnegie Hall, Just Off Broadway, Inc. Local/regional credits: LaComedia Dinner Theatre, Epiphany Players, Show Palace Dinner Theatre, Peach State Summer Theatre, Bearcreek Farms Resort, Johnny Appleseed Outdoor Drama, Theatre West Virginia, and The Huron Playhouse. Kandis also teaches for HRTC, and is a vocal coach. Love and many thanks to Dad, Megan and her amazing husband, Brad. Always for you, Mom.

Christine Zavakos • Beggar Woman

Christine Zavakos • Beggar Woman

Christine is thrilled to be returning to The Race after appearing in Fiddler on the Roof as Tzeitel. She has also had the pleasure to work for Pittsburgh CLO, Casa Mañana, Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, and Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre where she will be appearing in Into The Woods this fall. Favorite roles include: Sarah in Sondheim’’s Company, Judy in A Chorus Line, Prudie in Pump Boys and Dinettes (LaComedia) and Miss Sandra in All Shook Up. She has her BFA from Point Park University. Huge thank you to Scott, Sean, and Kevin for this opportunity and to my family for their continuous love and support.

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.
+Resident Artist of The Human Race Theatre Company.

Behind the Scenes

Sweeney and Me

Scott Stoney reflects on one of his most memorable roles

I must admit that being in the center of a theatrical event that has attained legendary status over the years here in Dayton continues to fill me with a great sense of pride and appreciation. It has been the journey of a lifetime that began in 1978 when word of a new Stephen Sondheim musical began creeping into every musical theatre nerd’s conversations. And that included me—a die-hard Sondheim fan. I cut my teeth on Company; delighted at the whimsy and waltz motif of A Little Night Music while back-pedaling through the cast album recordings of Follies, Anyone Can Whistle (falling in love with Angela Lansbury), and A Funny Thing Happen on the Way to the Forum. I was still reeling from his brilliant musical telling of Japanese history—Pacific Overtures—that “bombed” in 1976, taking special note that Mr. Sondheim had provided incredible lyrics for those old chestnuts, West Side Story and Gypsy. And now this new one, about a demon barber who slit throats with his razor! Sweeney Todd opened on Broadway in March of 1979, the cast album was recorded that same month. And, as was my bent, I bought it and absorbed it, every note, lyric and nuance.

In July of that year, I took a trip to New York City with my best friend, Marsha Hanna. We sat in the 8th row of the orchestra with mouths open for the duration—one of those life-changing moments for both of us. I knew I was meant to perform that role.

Fast forward to 1983 and Wright State University announces that they are producing Sweeney Todd and are looking for a professional to complete the student cast. I think I remember singing for faculty member/director Robert Hetherington. I do remember being in the office of then-Chair Abe Bassett and negotiating a Guest Artist Equity contract. I had landed the role. I also remember coming in to the first rehearsal with all the music learned. Thanks to that album, I had already sung the score hundreds of times with Len Cariou!

That first preview performance was magical. We had all worked so gloriously hard, and I mean everyone, the artistic team led by the artistry and imagination of Mr. Hetherington, the student crew, the orchestra, the cast. There’s only one way to do Sweeney Todd – passionately! The audience of students went crazy after the Prologue, and kept it up through the entire evening. The run is a blur now but clearly the production left an indelible mark on the theatre scene of Dayton.

The next 13 years…yes, 13, (a good omen for theatre people) were filled with incredible experiences for me. There was a move to NYC; an intensive summer of vocal technique with Master Arthur Lessac in Pella, Iowa; the passing of my mother; a European tour in a production of The Phantom of the Opera, and oh, did I mention a group of theatre artists started a professional Equity theatre right downtown at the Muse Space in the old Biltmore Hotel, hence a return move back to Dayton.

Another jump and it’s 1996. The Human Race Theatre Company is 10 years old and has a decade long history of producing one show a year at the Victoria, an opportunity to play in the Big House! Marsha Hanna is now the Artistic Director and wants to put Sweeney on the season, at the Vic. “It’s time,” she says. And I get the unbelievable gift of another trip to Fleet Street. And this time I’m age appropriate. The director is pulled from the world of opera, Michael McConnell. The cast is a beautiful collection of performing artists from the Tri-State area, New York City, and Chicago. You will recognize many of them for their work in the arts in this community today, people like Kevin Moore, Jamie Cordes, Sherri L. Sutter, and Scott Hunt. The short two-week run brought over 10,000 people to the Victoria Theatre to experience this now Musical Theatre classic.

That brings us to 2016. Twenty more years have flown by as The Human Race prepares to share this story with a whole new generation. And here I am again, too. With an intimate understanding of this story, I now step out of the stage lights and graduate to directing Sweeney Todd. (As I look back over my career, with bitter-sweetness I recall saying goodbye to other “favorite” roles, like Matt in The Fantasticks.) The challenge and the perk with this go-around will be staging it in our Loft Theatre. And it is with great pride and satisfaction that I pass Sweeney’s infamous razors to my friend and fellow-Resident Artist Jamie Cordes…yes, Jamie, who in 1996 played Anthony Hope. I am also happy to have Sherri and Scott back on board as well. And with Kevin producing, I am in very good company.