A dark and thrilling tale that is equal parts tragedy, horror, and dark comedy, Sweeney Todd should not be missed.

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by A.A. Cristi
West Valley Arts will present Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, September 9th-October 2nd, 2021 at the West Valley Performing Arts Center.This Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of an ousted barber known as Sweeney Todd and his revenge on the scheming judge who wrongly incarcerated him for fifteen years. Todd finds anunlikely ally in the failing pie shop proprietress Mrs. Lovett, who finds an unusual use forTodd"s victims. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler, the show has become a musical theatre staple since its Broadway premiere at the Uris Theatre in 1979.A dark and thrilling tale that is equal parts tragedy, horror, and dark comedy, Sweeney Todd should not be missed.WVA"s production is directed by John J. Sweeney. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Sweeney has performed and directed on stage in nearly 200 productions over 45 years in theaters across the country. He returns to the West Valley Performing Arts Center stage having directed or performed in more than 40 productions in West Valley City since he moved to Utah in 1999.

Some of his most memorable productions as a director on this stage have been A Tale of Two Cities, Phantom, Big Fish, The Little Mermaid and 15 consecutive years of A Christmas Carol. Despite sharing his surname with the first name of the star of this show, this is John"s first ever production of Sweeney Todd.Says Sweeney, "One of the first things to draw me to the show has always been the shared name, I know, obvious right? But the interesting part is that when I was in my 20"s as a working actor in the mid-90"s, I traveled all over the east coast and it always seemed that when I got a new contract, the theatre had just closed Sweeney Todd as I had arrived. The cast and crew would all be singing Sweeney at the top of their lungs and I literally had no clue what they were talking about because I had not seen the show. I had to find out what the show was all about. So, in the 25 years that have followed I have seen many different versions of the show and have really grown to love it and what I believe are the connections to another author I am very familiar with, Charles Dickens. Dickens stories all take place in relatively the same time period as Sweeney Todd but explore the story of redemption. However, in Sweeney Todd there is a lack of redemption.

The characters are obsessed, they seek revenge, they are hopeless. In my mind, each time thefactory whistle blows, another helpless, defeated soul happens upon the streets of London to potentially be a victim of Sweeney Todd".Sweeney is excited to share this production with audiences all over the valley. "One of the reasons I am so excited is because of the stage that this show will be produced on. I believe that the stage in West Valley City is unique. In many ways, the stage itself becomes a character in the show enveloping audiences in the story. There is no other stage like it in my opinion, in that it invites the audience into the story and they feel like they are a part of the action. We hope and believe that stories such as Sweeney Todd can breathe life into this stage even if takes a few with his razor along the way".

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opens on September 9th at 7:30 p.m., and runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through October 2nd, at the West Valley Performing Arts Center. For more information, and to purchase tickets, please call 801-965-5140 or visit www.wvcarts.org.

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