With the stroke of his barber knife Sweeney Todd slices the throats of his victims and then sends them to the basement to become components for freshly baked pies.
The meat pies become a hit with Londoners, who unknowingly consume their neighbours and friends.
The brutality of Sweeney Todd is fuelled by his desire for revenge. He is a tortured soul that descends into darkness and madness – feelings driven by his sense of injustice over being imprisoned so Judge Turpin and Beadle could take advantage of his family.
He spent 15 years incarcerated in a penal colony and when he returns to his beloved home in London, discovers that the place he once viewed as the best place in the world is not the same.
“As an actor you feel a little for Sweeney,” said Dean Chadwick, who plays the barber in Schmooze Productions Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. “Sweeney is one of those characters you really have to dig deep and put yourself in his world. His world has been crashed and he was a victim first.”
It’s a character that challenges an actor to delve into loss and despair and take a journey to a world consumed by rage and brutality.
For Chadwick that challenge is twofold – he’s doing double duty as Sweeney Todd and as a co-director of the play.
“It is a huge challenge and exciting at the same time,” he said.
Schmooze Productions is making a twist on the play that is normally set in Victorian London, for this production the company is doing the play in the steampunk era.
Steampunk is a genre that features steam-powered machinery and can include elements of science fiction, horror, historical fiction and fantasy.
The musical thriller premieres at Nanaimo Centre Stage Thursday (Nov. 8).
“It’s a dark comedy. It’s fun as well as frightening,” said Chadwick.
Chadwick said the play fits into Schmooze Production’s mandate of bringing things that are “a little bit eclectic” to the stage in Nanaimo.
He didn’t want to give too much away about the performance but said the audience will be involved.
“They are not required to participate but are being witnesses to it,” said Chadwick. “We like to create an entire experience for the audience when they come.”
Schmooze Productions’ Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street runs (Nov. 8) to Dec. 1 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Tickets are $25 plus tax and are available at Rich 1 Beauty Salon, located at 1-2145 Bowen Rd., or www.schmoozeproductions.com.