NHS Drama’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street School Edition” Wowed Audiences in March

By: Haley Fisher

The cast and crew worked hard since mid-December to put on the spectacular showcase of high school talent they shared with audiences in late March.

Once the guests took their seat, the lights faded out and the music began, the company started the opening song telling the story of Sweeney Todd. When your nerves were worked up with anticipation,the curtain was pulled to reveal Sweeney Todd himself standing on stage.

PHOTO GALLERY: NHS Drama’s decorations and promotions for “Sweeney Todd” adorned NHS halls and auditorium. [Click through gallery to experience]

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The story begins with Sweeney Todd, performed by Rashad Roman, and Anthony Hope, performed by Isaak Stafford, getting off a boat coming from Australia. The two promise to meet again, and each part ways to start a new life.

For Sweeney, he goes back and visits his old life. Returning to his old home and shop he discovers it’s been turned into a meat pie shop by Mrs. Lovett, performed by Ashlee Grace Chitwood.

She soon finds out that Sweeney Todd is really Benjamin Barker, the man who was banned from London for life. Instead of running to the police, Lovett partners up with Todd to help each other gain business as well as revenge.

While Sweeney works with a lethal hatred, Anthony – the man who Sweeney befriended on the boat – falls in love with Sweeney’s daughter, Johanna, performed by Erin Lamb. Johanna, however, has been placed under the care of the evil Judge Turpin, performed by Hal Richards, and his assistant The Beadle, performed by Evan Hamilton. Judge Turpin, unfortunately, has taken a fancy to Johanna and keeps her under tight lock and key, complicating the story tremendously.

Once Sweeney proves to be the best barber in London, he has trouble coming his way. Competitor, Pirelli, performed by Joseph Queener, is run out of business and threatens to reveal Sweeney’s true identity unless he gets half of Sweeney’s earnings every week. Unfortunately for Pirelli, he becomes Sweeney’s first victim.

This left Pirelli’s apprentice boy, Tobias Ragg, performed by Nick Hicks, masterless, The event also leaves Sweeney in a demonic rage and Mrs. Lovett with a series of ideas on how to profit from this dark industry.

So their business partnership begins. Mrs. Lovett uses the meat of Sweeney’s victims for her pies, and Sweeney begins to continuously provide Mrs. Lovett with “baking supplies.” Tobias’ only job is to keep the customers happy in addition to keeping the Beggar Woman, performed by Mina Armijo, away from Sweeney and the customers.

While Sweeney continues his murderous streak, you see his demons floating about. They encourage him and bring him customers. It’s a great visual interpretation  on what’s going on in Sweeney’s head. Demons were performed by Sarah Culbreth, Brandon Harris, William Harris, and Brooke Trahan.

In the less sinister part of the play, Anthony’s attempts to court Johanna are failing, and Judge Turpin wants her all to himself and sends her away when she refuses to marry him.

The distraught Anthony seeks help in his only friend, Sweeney Todd. When hearing his daughter has been sent away to a mental ward, he comes up with a plan to free her and get revenge on Judge Turpin.

Anthony is sent to rescue Johanna from the ward while Sweeney contacts Judge. He lets it be known what Anthony is doing and invites him to wait in the shop for Johanna.

Things start happening fast. Johanna is disguised as a sailor boy and hides in a trunk in Sweeney’s barber shop. Without realizing he has company, Sweeney rushes to prepare the the night’s planned events and deals with a hiccup or two in the plan.

With the facade of a calm innocent barber, Sweeney invites in Judge Turpin. Offering a free shave, Sweeney slowly reveals who is really is. Once the Judge is able to connect the dots, however, Sweeney’s revenge is already complete, and the Judge dies without being able to do anything about it.

In a sweeping series of revelations, the Judge, Sweeney, Mrs. Lovett and the Beggar Woman – who was actually Sweeney’s wife Lucy – all die in what feels like a tragedy, but amidst the loss of life, Anthony and Johanna are finally able to be together.

The performance was truly a wonderful production on all levels, and while this review can’t begin to cover the range of emotions, the performance kept much of the audience in chills. The performers received standing ovations, and eager fans filled each night’s seats ready for the next showing.