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NJPAC & NJYT Presents The Musical Thriller SWEENEY TODD 7/31-8/9

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The annual summer collaboration between the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and the award-winning New Jersey Youth Theatre (NJYT) undertakes its most ambitious production yet with a retelling of Stephen Sondheim's macabre, Tony Award-winning musical thriller, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In this Summer Musical Program, talented young actors and musicians from across the state learn what it takes to mount a Broadway-level production, from acting, singing and dancing to playing in the orchestra and behind the scenes work, all at no cost to them.

More humorous than the film version starring Johnny Depp, this new production of the classic tells the suspenseful, razor-sharp story of barber Benjamin Barker (aka Sweeney Todd), who returns to grimy 19th-century London vowing to extract revenge for his false imprisonment with the help of immoral baker Mrs. Lovett. Their twisted strategy: Sweeney will murder his victims in his barber chair and Mrs. Lovett will turn them into the tastiest meat pies in London.

The NJPAC/NJYT production of Sweeney Todd features a multi-cultural cast of 30 talented New Jersey actors, ages 15 to 22 years old. The principal cast includes: Kevin Melendez of West New York as Sweeney Todd (John Adams in the NJYT production of 1776); Jaclyn Ingoglia of North Caldwell as Mrs. Lovett (Adelaide in the NJYT production of Guys and Dolls), Eryn LeCroy of Belle Mead as Johanna; Stephen Mir of Bloomfield as Anthony; Adam Bashian of Wyckoff as Judge Turpin; Christopher Georgetti of Nutley as Beadle; Kirk Geritano of Edison as Pirelli, Carey Gsell of Glen Ridge as Tobias and Lori Tishfield of Freehold as Beggar Woman/Lucy.

"Our young performers seem to thrive on our raising the bar. Sweeney Todd is the most demanding production we have undertaken in our eighteen years, but I feel confident that the cast and musicians will meet the vocal and dramatic challenges head on and deliver remarkable performances," said Cynthia Meryl, Artistic Director and co-founder of New Jersey Youth Theatre. The Sweeney Todd cast will be accompanied by an orchestra of experienced student musicians and seasoned professionals.

Cynthia Meryl directs the production, with musical direction by Ilene Greenbaum and choreography by Assistant Director Sherry Alban. Past NJPAC/NJYT Summer Musical productions include: 1776, Midnight Madness (also performed in the New York Musical Theatre Festival), Ragtime: The Musical (named by The Star-Ledger as "Best Musical 2006"), West Side Story (recipient of the 2003 Music Theatre International Award of Excellence) and Carousel.

Sandra Bowie, Vice President of Arts Education at NJPAC, said of the production, "We look forward to collaborating with NJYT each summer because of the high level of training the program offers to young artists from all over New Jersey, regardless of a student's financial situation. Undertaking Sondheim is a real challenge, but one from which the students, from cast to orchestra to crew, will learn valuable lessons under the capable and professional hands of staff from NJPAC and NJYT."

As with past productions, Sweeney Todd will tour later this summer to the Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan, New Jersey, where it will run for seven performances, from Friday, July 31 to Sunday, August 9. Tickets are available at algonquinarts.org or by calling 731-528-9211.

The NJPAC/New Jersey Youth Theatre collaboration enables young, aspiring performers, musicians and technicians from New Jersey to receive the highest quality theater-arts education at no cost. Participants are provided with the unique opportunity to embrace active roles in a professional-level theater environment regardless of their economic backgrounds. Participants in past New Jersey Youth Theatre productions have gone on to Broadway, prime-time television, movies and regional theaters as well as top theater-arts programs at major colleges.

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in the heart of an emerging downtown Newark, New Jersey, is the sixth largest performing arts center in the United States. Home of the Grammy® Award-winning New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, NJPAC has been widely cited as a catalyst in the revitalization of New Jersey's largest city, attracting over 5.5 million visitors (including more than one million children) in its first eleven years of operation.

Programming has been made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.

NJPAC is a wheelchair accessible facility and provides assistive services such as TTY ticket purchase, designated seating, Sennheiser infrared listening devices and seat cushions.

Tickets are $35-$16. Ages 14 & up
Tickets are available by telephone at 1-888-GO-NJPAC (1-888-466-5722), at the NJPAC Box Office at One Center Street in downtown Newark, or by visiting the www.njpac.org.
For more information about New Jersey Youth Theatre, call 908-233-3200
or visit www.njyouththeatre.org


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