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Castle Theatre is perfect venue for 'Sweeney Todd'

David Hanson plays Sweeney Todd, and Marcie Jacobsen is Mrs. Lovett.
David Hanson plays Sweeney Todd, and Marcie Jacobsen is Mrs. Lovett.
Brad Montgomery

PROVO — Think you like steak and kidney pie? One night with "Sweeney Todd" will make you think again.

The Tony Award-winning musical "Sweeney Todd" is quickly becoming a Halloween tradition with the opening of the fifth-annual production at the Castle Theatre Oct. 22.

Written by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, this unseemly tale is the story of the unjustly exiled barber, Sweeney Todd, who returns to London seeking revenge against the judge who framed him. Todd's thirst for blood soon expands to include his unfortunate customers. That, coupled with the resourceful proprietress of the pie shop downstairs, soon has the people of London lining up in droves for a mysterious new meat pie recipe.

Adding to the intense drama and black humor of this production is the Castle Theatre's stone facade and ambience.

"There couldn't be a better setting," said Scott Montgomery, producer. "It takes place in London in the 1840s. It's a wonderful, eerie setting."

The outside venue and Mother Nature actually add to the show's mystique as well, Montgomery added. "Weather makes it fun. Cool weather adds to the whole experience. Last year it was snowing, and we had over 200 people waiting to see it," Montgomery said.

Should weather become inclement, however, the show does move inside to a more bland auditorium venue.

The talented David Hanson is taking the lead role of Sweeney Todd for his third year in a row. Local audiences have recently seen Hanson as Rochester in Hale Center Theater's production "Jane Eyre," and as General Genghis Kahn Schmitz in the SCERA production of "Seussical the Musical."

It is hard to explain why this diabolical story line with music is so entertaining.

"It (Sweeney Todd) is darker than Jekyll and Hyde because the characters are so amoral," Montgomery said.

This isn't "Little Shop of Horrors" with man-eating plants and beehive hairdos either.

"Whatever you see it as, this show has a major following," Montgomery said. "Musical theater fans love it; but so do college groups, senior citizens and music junkies. Even those that aren't big music theater fans love it."

MJ Productions this year is featuring the largest set and cast to ever be on the Castle stage.

"We are doing some unconventional things that people will find fun and exciting," Montgomery said. "Don't miss out on the show."

Montgomery added that it is best not to bring children under 12 because of the dramatic intensity of the show.

If you go. . .

Where: The Castle Theatre, 1300 E. Center St.

When: Oct. 22-29 at 8 p.m.; Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Tickets: At the door — $10 adults, $8 seniors/students, $5 children under 12

What you should know: Dress for the weather. There is a small walk from the parking area to the Castle esplanade.