Where the blade meets the band: 'Sweeney Todd' rehearsals open

Sweeney Todd in Denver

Photos from the making of ‘Sweeney Todd’ in Denver. To see more, simply click the forward arrow on the photo above. To download any photo for free, click on the photo and you will be taken to Flickr given download options. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson says there are many reasons for his DCPA Theatre Company to be taking on Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd 36 years after the Demon Barber of Fleet Street first wielded his bloody razor on Broadway.

“Here we have Sweeney Todd, the great serial killer, and unfortunately we also have mass shootings going in our schools and all kinds of things happening that are terribly scary to us,” Thompson said. “It was really on the forefront of so many other things that are present in in our culture now.”

But, to be real, there is one overriding reason Sweeney Todd opens next month as the Theatre Company’s final offering of the season:

“DeVotchKa,” Thompson said.

A Sweeney Todd rehearsal 600 2
The first sing-through for the DCPA Theatre Company’s upcoming ‘Sweeney Todd.’ Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

It was DCPA Artistic Associate Emily Tarquin who first suggested that perhaps Denver’s most venerable, internationally acclaimed and proudly non-mainstream band would be perfect to reimagine Sondheim’s score.

“I already knew DeVotchKa, but as I listened more to their music I thought it’s wonderfully dark; it’s haunted; it’s sly; it’s funny; it’s outrageous at times; it’s mysterious; it’s kind of funky, rocky, classical, gypsy Eastern European punk – and it just seems like a match made in heaven,” Thompson said. “Then we asked Mr. Sondheim, and he said yes.”

DeVotchKa with 'Sweeney Todd' Conductor Erik Daniells. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. On Tuesday, the full cast gathered for the first time for a sing-through led by Music Director Gregg Coffin and Conductor Erik Daniells. Also present were Jeanie Schroder, Shawn King and Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa, who have spent much of the past year adapting Sondheim’s arrangements into a new, 943-page score. All three will play in the orchestra for all Sweeney Todd performances, along with Daniells and four additional local musicians.

“This play is truly about how human beings turn on each other in times of hardship and imbalance,” Thompson said. “It’s outrageous; it’s funny; it’s macabre. It’s very disturbing at times, but it’s also thrilling. You can’t take your eyes away from it.”

(Pictured above right: DeVotchKa members Tom Hagerman, Shawn King and Jeanie Schroder with ‘Sweeney Todd’ Conductor Erik Daniells. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

Sweeney Todd appearance at the CBCA Awards luncheon at the Seawell Ballroom. Photo by John Moore.
‘Sweeney Todd’ appearance at the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts Awards luncheon at the Seawell Ballroom. In front: Linda Mugleston and Robert Petkoff as Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

Sweeney Todd: Cast list

  • Daniel Berryman as Anthony Hope
  • Samantha Bruce as Johanna
  • Kevin Curtis as Tobias Ragg
  • Dwelvan David as Beadle Bamford
  • Michael Brian Dunn as Pirelli
  • Kathleen McCall as Beggar Woman
  • Kevin McGuire as Judge Turpin
  • Linda Mugleston as Mrs. Lovett
  • Robert Petkoff as Sweeney Todd
  • Ensemble: Colin Alexander, Tia DeShazor, Donterrio Johnson, Charlie Korman, Jean McCormick, Jeffrey Roark, Danny Rothman, Christine Rowan and Shannan Steele
  • Swings: Jefferson Behan and Lauren Shealy

Creative team
Kent Thompson (Director)
Gregg Coffin (Music Director)
Erik Daniells (Conductor)
Joel Ferrell (Choreographer)
James Kronzer (Scenic Designer)
Kevin Copenhaver (Costume Designer)
Kenton Yeager (Lighting Designer)
Zach Williamson (Sound Designer)
Geoffrey Kent (Fight Director)

Sweeney Todd: Ticket information

  • 270x270-sweeney-toddMusic and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; Book by High Wheeler (adapted by Christopher Bond); musical adaptation by DeVotchKa
  • April 8-May 15 (opens April 15)
  • StageTheatre
  • Grammy-nominated Denver band DeVotchKa takes on the legendary demon barber of Fleet Street, serving up a reinvention of Sondheim’s musical thriller. Hell-bent on revenge, Sweeney Todd takes up with his enterprising neighbor in a devilish plot to slice their way through London’s upper crust. Justice will be served — along with audacious humor, bloody good thrills, and DeVotchKa’s brand of lush gypsy punk.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of Sweeney Todd:
    Theatre Company giddily going down rabbit hole in 2015-16
    DeVotchKa frontman promises a Sweeney Todd that’s ‘loud and proud’
    DCPA announces DeVotchka-infused Sweeney Todd casting

    'Sweeney Todd' costume designs by Kevin Copenhaver for the DeVotchKa band members who will play in the pit. Photo by John Moore.
    ‘Sweeney Todd’ costume designs by Kevin Copenhaver for the DeVotchKa band members who will play in the pit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

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