UW-W performs Sweeney Todd

Feb. 24, 2016

By Brandon Bennett

The Theater and Dance Department at UW-Whitewater is performing the musical, “Sweeney Todd.” The musical is based on a book released in the late Victorian era, a revenge story of a barber gone mad. The musical is intended for a mature audience due to some graphic scenes.

The Director, Jim Butchart, has been directing for more than 40 years and said it is one of the most difficult plays he has ever done.

“I’ve loved this show since the first time I heard it,” Butchart said. “I always wanted to do it but I’ve been avoiding it because often times it’s done by opera companies.”

According to Butchart, much of the singing in it requires the amount of training done in operas.

Early in the fall semester, at least 50 students fought to claim a spot in the musical.  There are 31 actors in the musical and nearly double that number of crew members.

“It’s big,” Butchart said. “It’s not big by standards of classic Broadway musicals, but it’s a pretty large scale musical.”

Many of the people in the play are music majors, so after auditions they were able to start learning the music early and study it with their voice teachers.

During the last week of winter break, the cast worked for 40 hours to start the process and learn the music. They continued to work together for about 20 hours a week from then until the show opened.

“It’s like having a part-time job,” Butchart said.

Zachary Frank, a fourth-year music major, plays Sweeney Todd.

“It’s busy, but I’m doing it on purpose,” Frank said. “It’s something that I want to do, and I will make time for it.”  

Frank said he plans to continue working to be a classical singer.

Frank said he made sure he knew the music before rehearsals so he could smooth things out before it opened. Frank listened to the music every day to memorize it and to get a grasp of what the character is.

“I’m actually to the point now where I can kind of rest, even though we’re doing rehearsals every day,” Frank said.

Frank believes it is a show that everyone should come out and see.

“It’s not a boring show. It’s got humor and it’s very thrilling with the whole murderous aspect,” Frank said.

“Sweeney Todd” opens at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23 and runs until Feb. 27.  Tickets are $14 for the general public, $12 for those over 65, $9.50 for anyone under 18 and $6 for UW-Whitewater students with their ID. Tickets are available at the Greenhill Center Box Office or online at uww.edu/cac/theatre-dance/sweeney-todd.

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