Betty Buckley and Shuler Hensley to Star in Texas Sweeney Todd

News   Betty Buckley and Shuler Hensley to Star in Texas Sweeney Todd
As plans continue for the upcoming Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd, another production of the Stephen Sondheim musical has been announced with an equally high-profile cast.
Tony Award-winning actress Betty Buckley
Tony Award-winning actress Betty Buckley

Tony Award winners Betty Buckley and Shuler Hensley will play, respectively, the pie-baking Mrs. Lovett and the knife-wielding Sweeney Todd in a production of the award-winning musical in Odessa, TX. Hensley announced the news on his official website, which also reports that Jonathan Tunick will conduct the orchestra for the July Sweeney Todd engagement at the Ector Theater. Tony Georges directs.

Sweeney Todd replaces the previously announced Little Shop of Horrors and will play the Ector July 7-24, confirmed director Georges. The Ector season also features Beauty and the Beast (June 2-19), Bernadette Peters in concert (Aug. 5) and Gypsy (Aug. 11-28). The latter will star Olivier Award winner Maria Friedman as Momma Rose.

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.

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." Michael Cerveris will play the title role when Sweeney arrives at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre in October; LuPone is expected to reprise her role as Mrs. Lovett.

Betty Buckley offered acclaimed performances in Sunset Boulevard, Carrie, Song & Dance, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, 1776 and Promises, Promises. She won a Tony Award for her performance as Grizabella in the Broadway production of Cats, and she starred on the London stage in Promises, Promises and Sunset Boulevard, earning an Olivier Award nomination for her work in the latter. Also a TV ("Eight Is Enough") and film (Tender Mercies) star, the actress-singer devotes much of her time to concert appearances around the world. Shuler Hensley won a Tony Award for his work as Jud Fry, a role he created on the London stage to Olivier Award-winning effect, in the most recent Broadway revival of Oklahoma!. His other theatrical credits include Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and The Most Happy Fella. Hensley's numerous screen credits include "Van Helsing," "Ed," "Deadline," "Gary Powers," "Monday Night Mayhem," "Sabrina," "Someone Like You" and "The Bread My Sweet." Hensley also recently completed the upcoming movie "Legend of Zorro" and will film "Opa!" with Matthew Modine this month in Greece.

For tickets or more information call (432) 337-9595.

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