Doyle's Sweeney Todd to Play American Conservatory Theater Prior to National Tour

News   Doyle's Sweeney Todd to Play American Conservatory Theater Prior to National Tour
Prior to launching its national tour, the John Doyle actor-musician staging of Sweeney Todd will play a limited engagement this summer at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, CA.
John Doyle
John Doyle Photo by Morgan Allen

A casting notice reveals that the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical, which features actors playing the entire score, will play A.C.T. Aug. 30-Oct. 14. The national tour will follow, beginning the week of Oct. 22 and ending in July 2008. No venues or cities have been announced.

The casting call, scheduled for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 and 2, is seeking actors for all principal roles, including Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett, the parts played on Broadway by, respectively, Tony winners Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone. In the casting notice's character descriptions, the actor playing Sweeney "must play orchestra bells. Ability to play guitar is a plus." Mrs. Lovett must also "play orchestra bells. Ability to play tuba is a plus."

The national tour is being produced by Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, Ambassador Theatre Group, Adam Kenwright and Tulchin/Barnter/Bagert.

The Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd began previews at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Oct. 3, 2005, and officially opened Nov. 3. When it closed Sept. 3, 2006, the musical had played a total of 349 performances and 35 previews. Director Doyle as well as orchestrator Sarah Travis took home 2006 Tony Awards for their work.

In this new conceptual take on the vengeful barber, the tale of Sweeney Todd is retold in the confines of an asylum where a distraught Tobias Ragg is imprisoned. Using only nine chairs, a ladder, and a coffin on two wooden horses on a stage assembled of wooden planks, ten actor-musicians re-create the characters and events of Victorian era Fleet Street. The Sondheim score (with the book by Hugh Wheeler from a Christopher Bond adaptation) is performed (in full view of the audience) by the acting company, who play instruments ranging from tuba, trumpet and clarinet to cello, accordion and bass.

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.

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