Delayed by Snowstorm, Signature's Sweeney Todd Opens on Schedule Feb. 16

News   Delayed by Snowstorm, Signature's Sweeney Todd Opens on Schedule Feb. 16 Mrs. Lovett encouraged Sweeney Todd to be patient, to "wait," and that's what the company of Signature Theatre's Sweeney Todd had to do Feb. 9-10, when snow prompted the cancellation of the first two previews of the revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical.

Previews began Feb. 11, and the opening remains Feb. 16. Directed by Signature artistic director Eric Schaeffer, the production plays the company's 276-seat MAX Theater through April 4.

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Signature Theatre is the Tony Award-winning company that built its reputation on works by Sondheim. The Sweeney Todd cast is headed by Shakespearean actor Edward Gero in the title role and Helen Hayes Award winner Sherri L. Edelen as Mrs. Lovett. They're joined onstage by Gregory Maheu as Anthony, Erin Driscoll as Johanna, Chris Van Cleave as Judge Turpin, Chris Sizemore as Beadle Bamford, Sam Ludwig as Tobias, Michael Bunce as Pirelli and Channez McQuay as the mad Beggar Woman. The ensemble comprises Jean Cantrell, Matt Conner, Sean Maurice Lynch, Kevin McAllister, Katie McManus, Chris Mueller, Russell Sunday, Hannah Willman and Weslie Woodley.

The Signature creative team also features scenic designer James Kronzer, costumer designer Kathleen Geldard, lighting designer Chris Lee and sound designer Matt Rowe. Musical staging is by Matthew Gardiner, orchestration is by Zak Sandler, and music direction is by Jon Kalbfleisch.

For tickets, priced $52-$76, call (703) 573-SEAT (7328) or visit www.signature-theatre.org. *

Considered one of Sondheim's masterpieces, Sweeney Todd originally premiered at Broadway's Uris Theatre on Feb. 6, 1979, with a cast led by Len Cariou (Sweeney) and Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Lovett), who both nabbed Tony Awards for their roles. Harold Prince directed the production, which was awarded the 1979 Tony for Best Musical. A 1989 revival at Circle in the Square Theatre featured Beauty and the Beast's Beth Fowler as Mrs. Lovett and former Evita star Bob Gunton as the man who returns to London to avenge the death of his wife.

Another major production of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler work, which is based on a version of "Sweeney Todd" by Christopher Bond, was the Kennedy Center mounting, which starred Brian Stokes Mitchell and Christine Baranski. A concert presentation of the musical, directed by Lonny Price and led by Tony winners George Hearn and Patti LuPone, confirmed the strength of Sondheim's score, which boasts such tunes as "The Worst Pies in London," "Johanna," "Pretty Women," "A Little Priest," "By the Sea" and "Not While I'm Around." Michael Cerveris and LuPone starred in the most recent Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd, which was directed by Tony winner John Doyle. The film version starred Johnny Depp.

<i>Sweeney Todd</i> stars Edward Gero and Sherri L. Edelen
Sweeney Todd stars Edward Gero and Sherri L. Edelen Photo by Chris Mueller
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