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Students shine in Sweeney Todd production

October 27, 2011
By Kayla Green

Sweeney Todd, played by Nathan Hickle, and Mrs. Lovett, played by Emily Thomas, are just two of the most unique characters in musical theatre, and this weekend will be your last chance to witness it for yourself at CSU's University Center for the Arts.

Meet Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd, a man sentenced to live in Australia after being wrongly convicted of murder, is seeking revenge, wreaking havoc on the streets of London and making meat pies. Nathan Hickle, a master's student in the Department of Music, is just one of two students fulfilling the vengeful state of a wronged man in this weekend's upcoming performance of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

"He's [Sweeney] a man with nothing left to lose; all he has is his vengeance," said Hickle. "It's very dramatic in a lot of ways that musical theatre isn't. It's like a train wreck you can't really look away from."

For Hickle, getting into the character of Sweeney Todd came with some challenges. "I tried to find an emotional state like the character's and recreate that," said Hickle. "It's just so hard to really explore that side of humanity and come out unscathed. It can be really taxing."

However, Hickle seems to be enjoying the role as much as he's challenged by it. "It's really hard to say 'no' to performing one of the most known characters in musical theatre. It [the production] begs the question, what does it take to push someone too far, and are we all capable of that?"

Meet Mrs. Lovett

Mrs. Lovett, the owner of the pie shop below Sweeney Todd's barber shop, is a woman that pursues Sweeney's affection while helping him turn his victims into meat pies. Emily Thomas, also a student within the Department of Music, is one of only two students selected to play Mrs. Lovett's role.

"He's [Sweeney] the whole reason she does any of the stuff throughout the show," said Thomas. "I think we've all-to a certain extent- been there. We often want to make someone you love happy so they'll stay with us."

For Thomas, it was maintaining Mrs. Lovett's accent that was the most challenging. "In musical theatre, there's a lot of multitasking. You have to worry about what you're doing on stage, the words you're singing, the words' meanings, the conductor, the music under you, what the other performers are doing- it's all an added extra element to the production," said Thomas.

However, it's exactly what she loves doing. "I've been performing since I was about 3," said Thomas. "I love being able to be different people, being able to lose yourself for awhile. You can make people feel certain things just by how you sing or say something." 

Final performances

This Friday and Sunday will be the final performances of the University's School of the Arts musical theatre production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Hickle will be performing in Friday's performance, and Thomas will be in Sunday's performance. Tickets can be purchased online for:

  • $10 for CSU students
  • $1 for youth, ages 2-17
  • $20 for adults

The production will be performed by CSU Opera Theatre, directed by Gregory Brookes, and the CSU Opera Orchestra, conducted by Wes Kenney.