Sweeney Todd — with Elaine Paige and Mark Delavan — Begins Performances March 5

News   Sweeney Todd — with Elaine Paige and Mark Delavan — Begins Performances March 5
Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd — starring Elaine Paige as Mrs. Lovett and Mark Delavan in the title role — begins performances at New York City Opera March 5.
Elaine Paige
Elaine Paige

Several roles in the limited engagement, which runs through March 28, are double-cast. West End stage star Paige will portray Mrs. Lovett for all performances, except March 6 and 13 matinees; at those two performances, Myrna Paris will play the pie-baking Lovett. Opera star Delavan and Broadway actor Timothy Nolen will alternate the title role. Delavan will play March 6 (matinee), 7 (matinee), 9 (evening), 11 (evening), 12 (evening), 13 (evening), 19 (evening), 24 (evening) and 28 (matinee). Keith Phares and Scott Hogsed will share the role of Anthony Hope, and Sarah Coburn and Tonna Miller will alternate as Joanna.

A few of the principal roles in the production are not double-cast: Judy Blazer — of Titanic fame — portrays the Beggar Woman at all shows; others who will play all performances include Walter Charles as Judge Turpin, Roland Rusinek as the Beadle, Keith Jameson as Tobias Ragg, Andrew Drost as Pirelli and William Ledbetter as Jonas Fogg.

The New York City Opera production features Harold Prince's original direction, staged here by Arthur Masella. Eugene Lee has designed the sets, with costumes by Franne Lee, original choreography by Larry Fuller, lighting design by Ken Billington and sound design Abe Jacob.

Considered one of Stephen 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.

A recent 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." Arguably Britain's most successful musical theatre actress, Elaine Paige has starred on the London stage in Evita, Cats, Chess, Anything Goes, Piaf, Sunset Boulevard and The King and I. She made her Broadway debut to much acclaim in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard, and her recordings are numerous.

For more information about New York City Opera, visit www.nycopera.com.

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