The Operatic Musical Tragedy of Sweeney Todd

Get ready for a musical thriller this February! The Poplar Pike Playhouse is taking
audiences into the gritty world of Victorian London in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of
Fleet Street. The Tony award-winning musical by Stephen Sondheim is considered his best
Broadway show because of its complex musical score. “If you took the dialogue out of this
show, the entire story would be told through the music”, explains director Ashleigh Williams,
“Sondheim’s score incorporates every character and every component of the plot.”
Sweeney Todd started out as a character in a weekly Victorian literature series. It wasn’t
until 1973 that it reached the stage. Stephen Sondheim saw the stage play by Christopher Bond
and was inspired to turn it into a musical. He felt that the addition of music would greatly
increase the size of the drama, transforming it into a different theatrical experience. Sondheim
himself has described this show as a "black operetta", and indeed, only about 20% of the show
is spoken. The other 80% is set to music, either sung or orchestrated underneath dialogue.
The musical score is so complex, cast members began rehearsals in December.
“Learning the music to this show is not only pivotal to the plot, but is what makes it dynamic.”,
says Rachel Christopherson who plays Johanna. “This show is nothing without Sondheim’s one
of a kind musical style, so nailing the music is a main priority for this cast.” 32 students make up
the cast, and with a musical as big as Sweeney Todd, no voice is too small. “All of the
transitions, narrations, and drama are told through the singers. Each cast member plays a vital
role in telling this haunting story”, explains musical director, Matthew Hayner.

Producing a music heavy show like Sweeney Todd requires a very unique relationship
between the director, music director, conductor, and cast. “There is a strong amount of players
working to make sure learning this music and putting on this show is accomplished to the best
of its ability, and I am so fortunate to be doing it with my directing team, and the hard-working
cast members I have,” says Hayner.
Tickets for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street are on sale now! For more
information, call the Poplar Pike Playhouse Box Office at (901) 755-7775 or visit PPP.org. To
keep up with the latest news, follow the Playhouse on Facebook, Instagram
(@poplarpikeplayhouse), or Twitter (@ppptheatre).
The Poplar Pike Playhouse is the theatre complex located on the campus of
Germantown High School.

 Music Director Matthew Hayner works with the ensemble trio. 

Music Director Matthew Hayner works with the ensemble trio. 

 Music Director Matthew Hayner works with Scarlett Simpson (Beggar Woman) her operatic tone.

Music Director Matthew Hayner works with Scarlett Simpson (Beggar Woman) her operatic tone.