BWW Interview: Leslie Beauchamp of SWEENEY TODD at Fort Wayne Civic Theatre
As you may or may not know, Fort Wayne Civic Theatre is in the midst of gearing up for their first fall show, SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, which opens on Friday, September 13th, at the Arts United Center. This bloody and beloved show is sure to be a hit, especially at this time of year when audiences are craving the chilly and spooky along with the rapidly-cooling weather.
This show is a relatively adventurous venture for the Civic, as their most recent production of SWEENEY TODD was way back in 1994. I was able to talk to Leslie Beauchamp, the local director and choreographer helming this year's SWEENEY, about her thoughts on the show and what she's most looking forward to.
Have you been involved with any productions of SWEENEY TODD before, either on the production or performance side?
I have been on the production side of Sweeney before, having choreographed it for the Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre nearly ten years ago. One of the many rewarding things about directing the show this time is reuniting several of the cast that were also in that production.
What drew you to SWEENEY TODD in particular?
I have had a love affair with this show since I first became aware of it in the 80's. I have always been enthralled with the entirety of the piece - the clever language, the wicked humor, the lush orchestration, the unique characters, the haunting melodies, the grand feel of an opera while maintaining the intimacy of musical theatre, the intertwining motifs, the representation of huge, overarching themes - and how intricately each part fits together to present an intriguing, cautionary tale.
What's your vision for this production?
Our vision for this show is one that, while set in the 1840's, has a modern feel that gives the lessons some immediacy. [It's] the idea that obsession and hypocrisy live in each of us, that we justify our own choices, however immoral or indecent, while castigating others for theirs.
Is there anything specifically that inspired you, regarding that vision?
The story inspired me. It's always about the story we want to tell, and how we feel we can best achieve it. There is such a rich, complex trove of possible truths to highlight in this show, but we were drawn to obsession and hypocrisy and how we all become caged by the cycle of them.
What should people look forward to, when they come to see it?
Audiences can look forward to a delicious smorgasbord of talent, first of all. This show is stuffed with magnificent vocalists and actors. Every single member of the production is a formidable, top tier performer, all coming together to form a truly incredible cast. We can't help but smile every night at rehearsal, recognizing how fortunate we are to be in the midst of such gifted ladies and gentlemen! We can't wait for audiences to get to experience this show, to understand there is absolutely no hyperbole involved when they hear talk of how superb this cast is. The production team has pulled out all the stops - it is a visual feast. We have had so much fun with the design of the show - the set, costumes, props, lights, sound and, of course "the chair!" It's been a pleasure to work with such smart, fun, creative artists. We can't wait to share this story, and we invite everyone in to enjoy it. It's sure to be a bloody good time!
Thanks, Leslie! There you have it, folks. SWEENEY TODD is only running for two weekends, so be sure to snag your tickets online here or by calling the Arts United Box office at 260-434-5220.