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The Hill School’s Ellis Theatre Guild to Present "Sweeney Todd" This Fall

The Hill School’s Ellis Theatre Guild is cooking up another spectacular Broadway-style show for its 2022 fall musical. Four performances of Sweeney Todd will be held in the Center for The Arts Theatre on Friday, November 11, 2022, through Sunday, November 13, 2022. Tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance at www.thehill.org/SweeneyTodd. Note: Friday's performance is sold out. 

“Hauntingly beautiful.” These are the words Center For The Arts Director and Theatre Director Chris McGriff uses to describe Hill’s interpretation of the Broadway musical, Sweeney Todd. In true Chris McGriff fashion, there will be a few twists and turns along the journey, as Hill brings this dark tale to life on stage.

“The approach we’re taking with staging and design is very different from the original musical,” McGriff states. “Sweeney Todd is usually a show that’s copied from the original. However, our production will breakaway completely from that.”

When asked about the inspiration for season’s show, McGriff wanted to pay homage to the late Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the music and lyrics for Sweeney Todd.

“I knew how much Sondheim enjoyed watching our rendition of Into the Woods (which he also wrote),” remarked McGriff. “This is our way of honoring him."

Just like Into the Woods, McGriff received permission from Sondheim’s estate to feature new orchestrations for Hill’s production of Sweeney Todd.

McGriff also said that when considering options for the fall production, Sweeney Todd was an obvious choice based on the potential of the cast.

Luke Gerdeman ’23 will take on the role of “Sweeney Todd.” Lizzie Hopper ’23 will star in her first lead role as “Misses Lovett.” They will be joined by a “small and mighty” cast and ensemble of 13 other students.

“This is Luke’s second time in a lead role in a Sondheim show since he was ‘the Baker’ in Into the Woods,” noted McGriff. “I’m excited for everyone to see him in this role. I think it’s really going to shock people. Everyone knows Luke as the funny, goofy type so seeing him play ‘Sweeney’ is going to be amazing.”

“Lizzie was ‘Aunt Em’ last year in Love, Dot and this is her first major, lead role,” said McGriff. “She has such good comedic timing and really plays well off Luke. They have great stage chemistry.”

In addition to the updated orchestrations and new cast members, this will be the first time a show in the Center For The Arts Theatre will feature full surround sound. Combined with jump scares, McGriff warns the audience will “constantly be on their toes!”

In Sweeney Todd, we will see Bobby Goodrich step in as the full production designer. In the past, Goodrich designed the custom wigs and elaborate costumes for Hill’s productions, including Love, Dot and Hairspray. In addition to wigs and costumes for Sweeney Todd, Goodrich will oversee the design of the gothic-style set, which will be a bold move away from the show’s original design.

Joining Goodrich and McGriff are Technical Director Peter Gorneault, who has the privilege of working with the largest crew of student-technicians since he joined Hill, all of whom are eager to showcase the hard work they do behind the scenes; Laura Cobbs, Hill’s adjunct dance instructor, leading the cast in choreography; and guest musical director will Kevin DeLisa, who completed a two-week intensive with the cast at the beginning of rehearsals.

McGriff and his talented team are dying to perform this twisted tale of revenge! As Sweeney Todd is known to be a very dark, chilling musical, we ask that all children under the age of 13 be accompanied by an adult.

Sweeney Todd, whose real name is Benjamin Barker, uses his new alias to resume work in his barber shop above Mrs. Lovett’s struggling pie shop after being wrongfully sentenced to life imprisonment by the corrupt Judge Turpin. After swearing vengeance against the judge that tore his family apart, Todd and Lovett plot a unique plan that helps them both and leads them down a dangerous, thrilling path with deadly consequences. https://broadwaymusicalhome.com/shows/sweeneytodd.htm

Stay tuned on @HillArts on Instagram for sneak peeks and teasers.

CAST:

Luke Gerdeman '23 – Sweeney Todd
Lizzie Hopper '23 – Misses Lovett
Cordelia Davies '23 – Johanna
Devon Smith '24 – Anthony
Marshall Welch '24 – Judge Turpin
Daniel Schlegel '23 – Beadle Bamford
Emil Palacios Alvarez '24 – Tobias
Meena Ali '23 – Beggar Woman
Timothy Woodward '24 – Adolfo Pirelli
Bennett Cerullo '23 – Jonas Fogg

ENSEMBLE:

Joy Booth-Genthe '25
Ryann Holladay '24
Sophie Walsh '24
Grace Wang '25
Meredith Marks '24

TECHNICIANS:

Fife Akinyanmi '25
Tofe Akinyanmi '23
Claire Bressi '26
Ian Brown '23
Araiya Casriel '24
Michael Cheng '26
Hayden Downie '26
Maria Halvey '26
Emma Herzog '24
Payton Jobson '23
Nicole Leonardo '25
Annie Nguyen '24
Meg O’Halloran '25
Abigail Rice '26
Zach Rice '24
Brooke Zelin '24
Sissi Zhen '24