Nov 07, 2023

๐ŸŽ™ Hays High presents the murderous barber of Fleet Street, 'Sweeney Todd'

Posted Nov 07, 2023 11:01 AM
Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Hays Post

Hays High School is bringing to the stage a story of revenge, a bloody barber and deranged baker in its production of the musical "Sweeney Todd."

The musical will be performed at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the 12th Street Auditorium.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students. They can be preordered online by clicking here or purchased at the door.

Because of the content of the show, it is not recommended for small children.

Sweeney Todd, the murderous barber, is played by HHS senior Eric Lucio, and Mrs. Lovett, the baker, is played by junior Jordan Aschenbrenner

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Lucio described the plot of the black comedy.

Sweeney Todd is taken away from his family by an evil judge. He seeks vengeance and plots to kill the judge who wronged him and his family.

The baker, Mrs. Lovett, has a bakery underneath the barber shop. She and Todd plot to kill Todd's clients and bake them into pies, which she sells, Lucio said.

"This whole time, while he is trying to get revenge on the judge, they are baking humans," Lucio said.

Stephen Sondheim wrote music and lyrics in 1979 to adapt the play by the same name by Christopher Bond circa 1970. However, the Sweeney Todd character dates back to the Victorian era.

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Lucio said he had to get out of his comfort zone to play the murder. 

"I had to balance the line between the humor and being a murderer," he said.

"There are times that you have to be still. You are the most serious person on the planet, and then other times, you are laughing about eating a priest," Lucio said.

Aschenbrenner said she studied throughout the summer to better understand the depth behind Mrs. Lovett.

"She's very ditzy, but she also knows what she wants at all moments," Aschenbrenner said.

In amongst the murderous mayhem, there's a subtle love story. Mrs. Lovett pines for Sweeney Todd.

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Lucio said is has been a challenge to relate to the dark part of the characters, but Sweeney Todd is a human who has suffered trauma and hardships.

Director Adrian Rifat said the quality of the student cast has helped transform a Broadway hit into something that can be enjoyed in Hays.

"I think that the cast that I'm working with is very talented and is a very able cast and a very willing cast," he said. "It's been very fun to meet them halfway. They are as excited about the material as I am."

He said he thought one of the greater challenges was reimagining the production so it could be more relatable to people in this area.

Alex Underwood, musical director, said "Sweeney Todd" has one of the most difficult scores in musical theater.

"It's basically an opera," he said. "It's almost entirely song through. I would say it's the same difficulty too. Lots of opera companies around the country produce this show. It's one of the things that makes it so difficult for high school students and is something a lot of directors shy away from."

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

 About 50 students are in the cast, and Underwood said it has been a good flex for them.

"If you like to watch high school students be really incredible at what they do, this is definitely what you want to come and check out," he said.

The set is one piece that is divided into sections. The crew has developed homemade blood packs for the show that are made of water and detergent that will be enhanced by special lighting. 

Lucio said he thought this might be a great first musical for someone who is not normally into musical theater.

"This is something that could change your perspective," he said. "It's not really like anything I have seen.

"There is so much to keep track of. Something is always happening. There are so many parts to this musical and so many layers. Every time I read the script I find something new โ€” a new humorous line or something deep."

Cast list

Senior Eric Lucio as Sweeney Todd
Junior Jordan Aschenbrenner as Mrs. Lovett
Senior Nate Henderson as Anthony
Senior Kendra Ryan as Johanna
Junior Oscar Flores as Judge Turpin
Junior Caleb King as Toby
Senior Atlas Seib as The Beadle
Senior Ellie McGuire as Lucy/Beggar Woman
Senior Galahad Nichols as Signor Pirelli

The ensemble this year consists of seniors Sam Albin, Sophie Ballenger, Beth Bowles, Calliope Green, Brooke Leiker, Calvin Moore, Dakota Normandin and Nathan Ward; juniors Addy Brull and Elizabeth Noble; sophomores Levi Harrison, Johanna Jones, Bryler Russell, Bryson Weber, Connor Werth, Olivia Werth and Rose Windholz; and freshmen Daniel Adkins and Harley Foarde.

Chorus members include senior Tim Koehn; sophomores Leo Cain, Ahna Leiker, Loren Tervort and Lizzy Vajnar; and freshmen Kali Beougher, Adrian Carrillo Maldonado, Kayden Eaton, Riley Flax, Jocelyn Goodspeed, Pashyn Jones, Jazmine Lynd, Ripley Mills-Kulmala, Zari Niles, Mari Paxton, Jacob Ridgway, Alexis Ryan, Adam Slaughter and Julianne Stecklein.