The Hill School’s Ellis Theater Guild presents ‘Sweeney Todd’ – Reading Eagle

POTTSTOWN — The Hill School’s Ellis Theater Guild is preparing another Broadway-style spectacular for its fall 2022 musical. Four performances by Sweeney Todd will take place at the Center for The Arts Theater from Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13.

Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance at www.thehill.org/SweeneyTodd.

“Hauntingly beautiful. Those are the words Chris McGriff, director of the Center for the Arts and theater executive, uses to describe Hill’s take on the Broadway musical, Sweeney Todd. In true Chris McGriff fashion, there will be a few twists and turns throughout the journey, as Hill brings this dark tale to life on stage.

“The approach we take with directing and design is very different from the original musical,” says McGriff. “Sweeney Todd is generally a show copied from the original. However, our production will completely break away from this.

Asked about the show’s inspiration for the season, McGriff wanted to pay tribute to the late Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the music and lyrics for Sweeney Todd.

“I knew how much Sondheim enjoyed watching our rendition of Into the Woods (which he also wrote),” McGriff remarked. “It’s our way of honoring him.”

Like Into the Woods, McGriff received permission from the Sondheim Estate to present new orchestrations for Hill’s production of Sweeney Todd.

McGriff also said that when considering options for the fall production, Sweeney Todd was an obvious choice based on cast potential.

Luke Gerdeman ’23 (Chester Springs) will take on the role of “Sweeney Todd”. Lizzie Hopper ’23 (Santa Monica, Calif.) will be playing her first starring role as “Miss Lovett.” They will be joined by a “small and mighty” cast and a set of 13 other students.

“This is Luke’s second starring role on a Sondheim show since he was ‘the baker’ on Into the Woods,” McGriff noted. “I’m thrilled that everyone sees him in this role. I think it will really shock people. Everyone knows Luke as a funny, goofy guy, so seeing him perform “Sweeney” is going to be amazing.

“Lizzie was ‘Aunt Em’ last year in Love, Dot and it’s her first big starring role,” McGriff said. “She has such great comedic timing and plays really well with Luke. They have great stage chemistry.

Along with updated orchestrations and new cast members, this will be the first time a show at the Center For The Arts Theater will feature full surround sound. Combined with jump scares, McGriff warns that audiences will “be on their toes all the time!”

In Sweeney Todd, we’ll see Bobby Goodrich step in as the full production designer. In the past, Goodrich has designed custom wigs and elaborate costumes for Hill’s productions, including Love, Dot and Hairspray. In addition to wigs and costumes for Sweeney Todd, Goodrich will oversee the design of the gothic-style set, which will be a bold departure from the show’s original design.

Joining Goodrich and McGriff are Technical Director Peter Gorneault, who has had the privilege of working with the largest team of student technicians since joining Hill, all of whom are eager to show off the hard work they do in the backstage; Laura Cobbs, Hill’s assistant dance teacher, leading the choreography cast; and guest musical director will be Kevin DeLisa, who completed an intensive two-week internship with the cast at the start of rehearsals.

McGriff and his talented team are dying to play out this twisted tale of revenge! As Sweeney Todd is known for being a very dark and scary musical, we ask that all children under 13 be accompanied by an adult.

Sweeney Todd, real name Benjamin Barker, uses his new pseudonym to return to work at his hair salon above Ms Lovett’s struggling patisserie after he was wrongfully sentenced to life imprisonment by corrupt Judge Turpin . After swearing revenge on the judge who tore his family apart, Todd and Lovett hatch a unique plan that helps them both and leads them down a dangerous and exciting path with deadly consequences.

For more information visit https://broadwaymusicalhome.com/shows/sweeneytodd.htm

Stay tuned to @HillArts on Instagram for previews and teasers.

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