Since October, Dr. Kenneth Pereira has worked extraordinary hours to ensure the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s performance of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," by Stephen Sondheim, is flawlessly showcased.
Pereira has been interested in this specific opera for years and is finally able to make the performance his own.
“It’s a great show," Pereira said. "I have always wanted to be in it.”
The show tells the unsettling tale of a Victorian-era barber who returns home to London after 15 years of exile to take revenge on the corrupt judge who ruined his life. When revenge eludes him, Sweeney swears vengeance on the entire human race, murdering as many people as he can, while his business associate Mrs. Lovett bakes the bodies into meat pies and sells them to the unsuspecting public.
Behind every dedicated director, there are great actors, and in this case, a great stage manager as well. Jenna Matthias, who is studying theatre arts, has worked on many shows for the university, but she says that "Sweeney Todd" is the largest production to date.
“There is so much that goes into it," Matthias said. "There are a lot of elements that are on a much larger scale than a normal play.”
When asked what their favorite line from the show is, both Pereira and Matthias said there was no way to answer the question.
“There are so many! I like different lines for different reasons,” Pereira said. “There are different lines that strike me every time I see it.”
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23-25 and March 2-4, and at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 26 and March 5 in Gantner Concert Hall of the Haas Fine Arts Center. See ticket information and a related Leader-Telegram story.
Photo caption: UW-Eau Claire students rehearse for "Sweeney Todd," which opens Feb. 23. (Photo by Melaina Steig)