Sweeney Todd Takes the Stage with Broadway Stars in Leading Roles

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 21st season opens Friday with Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and features William Michals and Dee Roscioli, two prominent Broadway actors, as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett respectively.

Arriving last summer directly from the Tony Award winning landmark Broadway revival of South Pacific to play the same role, Emile DeBecque, at PSF, Michals returns this summer to take the title role in Sweeney Todd, the famed barber of Fleet Street. Michals’ credits include both the Beast and Gaston in the Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast, and the national tours of Les Miserables (Javert), The Scarlet Pimpernel (Chauvelin), and The Music Man (Harold Hill).

Roscioli, an Easton-area native known for her long run as Elphaba on Broadway, as well as the Chicago, San Francisco, and national touring productions of the hit musical Wicked, will play Mrs. Lovett, the meat pie-making accomplice of Sweeney Todd who sparks their diabolical plan. Ms.Roscioli’s national tour credits also include the principal role of Grizabella in Cats.

Based on an adaptation by Christopher Bond, Sweeney Todd tells the story of a barber who has returned to London after 15 years in a penal colony. Working with his landlady, Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney plots his revenge upon the Judge who falsely convicted him and destroyed his family. Sweeney Todd meshes a masterful plot of thrills and unexpected turns together with a beautiful yet haunting score to create a musical experience unlike any other.

Following last season’s stellar production of South PacificDennis Razze returns to direct a spectacular cast: in addition to Michals and Roscioli, Broadway veteran Christopher Coucill returns to PSF as the antagonistic Judge Turpin. Michelle Sexton, who has been featured in opera and theatre companies across the country, plays the mysterious Beggar Woman.

The cast also features Dave Schoonover as the devious Pirelli, Paul Louis Lessard as Jonas Fogg, Evan Harrington as The Beadle, and David Garry as the Bird Seller. Katie Wexler, aDeSales alumna plays Johanna, and James Stapb plays the love-struck Anthony Hope.

            Vincent Trovato returns to PSF as the music director and conductor of Sondheim’s thrilling score. Steve TenEyck has designed the grim, London setting for the show. Eric T. Haugen is the lighting designer. Lisa Zinni, whose New York credits include Hair and Rent has designed the costumes. Martha Ruskai designed wigs and make-up. Erin Hurley choreographed. The sound design has come from Matthew Given, PSF’s resident sound designer and production manager. Robin Grady serves as production stage manager.

Sweeney Todd previews tonight and tomorrow, opens June 15 on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the DeSales University campus in Center Valley and continues through July 1.

The performance times are at 7pm Tuesdays, 8pm Wednesdays through Saturdays, with matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm (excluding Saturday, June 16th). One Sunday evening performance is offered at 7:30pm on June 17.