August 24 - September 11
- CAST & CREATIVE
“Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd. His Skin was Pale and his eye was odd. He shaved the faces of Gentlemen, who never thereafter were heard of again…, did Sweeney… the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” This Tony award winning musical thriller is honing in on Bellport with a remarkable, suspenseful and pulsating live production. The renowned score of beautiful melodies and haunting lyrics evoke a story with romance, shivers, excitement and even humor; audiences find themselves laughing hysterically one moment and gasping in surprise the next. Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece is sophisticated, macabre, visceral and uncompromising – a musical that is on most every musical theater aficionado’s list as one of the best ever written.
|NATHAN ANDERSON (Jonas Fogg/Ensemble) is thrilled to be returning to the Gateway Playhouse. Previously with Gateway he was in the ensembles of Sunset Blvd. and A Christmas Carol and understudied Mr. Fezziwig/Jacob Marley. Regional and tour credits as follows: The Mayor of Whoville, in Seussical the Musical, Marcelus Washburn, in The Music Man, and Mr. Fezziwig in the tour of Scrooge the Musical! with the New York Stage Originals. He would like to dedicate this show to Booch, and the Candices! Here’s to saying ‘Yes’ to the Universe!|
|DEREK BASTHEMER (Ensemble) Derek’s love of Wisconsin cheese is only eclipsed by his passion for musical theater. A Manhattan School of Music graduate, he is thrilled to make his Gateway Playhouse debut with Sunset Boulevard and Sweeney Todd. Additional studies: The New England Conservatory and HB Studio. A big thanks to his friends, teachers and especially his family for their support and love.|
|KRISTINE BENNETT (Ensemble) is thrilled to be returning to Gateway after appearing as a Silly Girl in 2008’s production of Beauty and the Beast. Earlier this year Kristine was on the National Tour of The Music Man. Other favorite credits include: Oklahoma (Ocean City Theatre Company and LaComedia), The Fantasticks and A Fireside Christmas (The Fireside Theatre), and Miracle on 34th Street (Jersey Shore Productions.) Kristine is a graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Thanks to the Gateway family
and loved ones. Romans 5 1-5. www.KristineBennett.blogspot.com
| KEN CLARK (Anthony) couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this fantastic production of Sweeney Todd. Ken graduated in 2010 from the musical theatre conservatory
at the University of Miami. Regional credits include Altar Boyz (Matt), The Mikado (Ko-Ko), Urinetown (Bobby),
Guys and Dolls (Sky) and Rent (Roger) at Syracuse Stage. Love to Mom, Dad, Gramps, Granny and LoRo, and a big thank you to Stone Manners and Station 3.
|PEYTON CRIM (Ensemble/u/s Judge Turpin) is grateful to settle down for a few months and perform with Gateway! A Dallas native, He graduated from Oklahoma City University before making the move to New York. Since then, he has been seen in The Music Man (National Tour), Ring of Fire, The Mikado, La Boheme, Oh Coward!, and Into The Woods. Thanks to his Family and Friends for their support, and The Waffle Cart for its motivation.|
|SCOTT EMERSON (Pirelli/Ensemble) is thrilled to be making his Gateway debut in his favorite musical, Sweeney Todd!!! A career including both Opera and Theatre, Scott was associated with the Opera-Comique, Paris as a principal house singer, and guest artist in over 20 productions including: Le Comte Ory, Don Giovanni, Les Mamelles de Tiresias, Carmen and L’Heure Espagnole. International credits: Milan - La Station Thermale, and Santiago - Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Theatre credits include: Sweeney Todd- Chatelet Theatre-Paris, Titanic- Royal Opera de Wallonie, Jesus Christ Superstar national tour, and The Mikado 2050- Candlewood Playhouse. Scott is American trained, alumni : Temple University, and Music Academy of the West. A native of Los Angeles, he makes his home in Paris, France.|
|CAITLIN FISCHER (Ensemble/u/s Johanna) was most recently seen in Sunset Blvd. at The Gateway. Regional credits include Magnolia in Show Boat, Lily in The Secret Garden, and Mrs. Crachit in A Christmas Carol. Other favorite roles are Eliza in My Fair Lady, Maria in West Side Story, Catherine in A View from the Bridge, and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. She received her Master of Music from the Peabody Conservatory and her Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University.|
|BONNIE FRASER (Johanna) is over-joyed to be making her Gateway debut! Vegas: Phantom, The Las Vegas Spectacular! (Christine u/s; performed), Off-Broadway: Meet Me In St. Louis (Esther), A Child’s Christmas in Wales (Irish Rep, respectively). Regional: Christmas Carol (Belle/Meg, NSMT), The Fantasticks (Louisa, Gallery), Evita (Mistress, Reagle), Pirates of Penzance (Mabel, Frederick Loewe). Bonnie is an NYU graduate and made her Carnegie Hall debut at 18. She is so grateful to “attend the tale!” www.Bonnie-Fraser.com|
|KEVIN GUTCHES (Ensemble) is thrilled to be returning to Gateway for the summer! He was previously seen at Gateway in Sunset Blvd., Spamalot, Legally Blonde and in last summer’s Happy Days. Other Credits: 30th Anniversary Tour of Annie (Rooster u/s), The Full Monty (Ethan Girard), Mystery of Edwin Drood (Deputy). Kevin holds a B.A. in Theatre from Wagner College. He would like to thank his family and friends for all the love and support; love to those who support live theatre!|
|ALICIA IRVING (Mrs. Lovett) At Gateway: Lucy in Jekyl & Hyde, Fraulein Kost in Cabaret. Was most recently seen at Portland Center Stage as Emma Goldman in Ragtime. Before that she was part of the 1st National Tour of The Drowsy Chaperone understudying and eventually taking over the title role. On Broadway credits include original casts of: Sunset Boulevard starring Glen Close (Kath The Analyst, u/s Norma Desmond); Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Co. (Factory Girl, Fantine u/s and performed) and SideShow (The Fortune Teller). Alicia was also seen in The Scarlet Pimpernel (2.5 and 3.0!). Regional credits include The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Helena) St. Louis Rep; Man of La Mancha (Aldonza) Maltz Jupiter; Oliver (Nancy) Syracuse Stg. & West Virginia Public; What the World Needs Now (The Other Woman) Old Globe San Diego; Zorba starring John Raitt (The Leader) Fullerton Civic. As a recording artist Alicia has worked with Rod Stewart and producer Trevor Horn. She can also be heard on original cast recordings of Sunset and SideShow. For my Dad.|
|JAMIE JACKSON (Sweeney Todd) Thanks to Gateway for making a dream come true. Having played Sweeney, I can retire! Theatre: The 39 Steps (off-Broadway), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (National tour, 4 perfs at Gateway), Annie (Fulton), Great Expectations (Goodspeed), King Lear, The Crucible (Sydney Theatre Company). TV: Flight of the Conchords (HBO). With his wife, composer, SoHee Youn, he wrote several musicals including Love: A Multiple Choice Question (NY Fringe, York Theatre, Australia). Jamie performs standup for Laughing Liberally. Love and gratitude to SoHee, thanks to Gateway and About Artists.|
|ROBERT ANTHONY JONES (Beadle) is thrilled to be returning to Gateway for his very first summer season. His recent Gateway credits include double rounds of A Century of Christmas and Mr. Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol. He was last seen in NYC at Madison Square Garden in the National Tour of The 101 Dalmatians Musical, where he originated the role of Jinx Baddun (directed by Jerry Zaks, with choreography by Warren Carlyle). He also originated the roles of the dresser/hermit/grammer Canty in the hit off-Broadway musical The Prince and the Pauper, and can be heard on the Original Cast Recording on Jay Records and itunes. Regional favorites include: Max in The Producers (West Virginia Public Theatre), Amos in Chicago (Riverside Theatre), and Sancho in Man of La Mancha (Theatre by The Sea, playing opposite Bruce Winant). RAJ is also the host of a children’s television series, Drew’s Famous Magical Jukebox, Sing A Long and Dance A Long. www.robertanthonyjones.com|
|JESSICA NORLAND (Ensemble/u/s Mrs. Lovett) is so excited to be making her Gateway debut! Past roles include Louise in Gypsy, Anita in West Side Story, Eva Peron in Evita and Narrator in Joseph… She is also a singer for Hank Lane Music. She holds a BFA in Musical Theater from The Boston Conservatory. Much love and thanks to her family, friends, Mom, Ryan, Mike, Pro and M.Hart and Co. for their support! For Dad.|
|MATTHEW NOWAK (Salesmen) is a LongIsland native who is excited to be returning to the Gateway stage! Past seasons include Miss Saigon and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He has worked on numerous readings, workshops and concerts including Rags in concert with Carolee Carmello and Eden Espinosa. Matthew holds a BFA in musical theatre from The Boston Conservatory. Many thanks to the Gateway family for this opportunity! And of course Matthew wouldn’t be here without the support and love from his mom.|
|KIMBERLY SHERBACH (Ensemble) is thrilled to be making her Gateway Playhouse debut in Sweeney Todd! She graduated from Catholic University with a Bachelor’s degree in Music and is pursuing a career in musical theatre and the arts. Past performance experience includes: REGIONAL: Signature Theatre: Showboat (Julie U/S), The Visit (Female Swing), Lost Songs of Broadway Cabaret. The Kennedy Center: The Sweetest Sounds: A Tribute to Richard Rodgers. LOCAL: Smithtown Performing Arts Center: Oklahoma!; Studio Theatre.: A Gentleman and a Scoundrel, Private Lives.|
|JODI STEVENS (Beggar Woman) recently earned rave reviews as Hollywood film icon, Marlene Dietrich, in the Off Broadway production of Dietrich and Chevalier the musical. During the run, she completed the independent feature film, Pervertigo, due out in 2012. Other films include The Funeral and The Narrow Gate. On Broadway she starred in the original companies of Urban Cowboy and Jekyll & Hyde. Off-Broadway and regional favorites include, Under Fire: The Musical, I Can Get it for You Wholesale, Eliot Ness in Cleveland, Body Shop, Antigone, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, Love Letters, starring opposite her husband, Scott Bryce, Heaven Help Us: A New Rat Pack Musical: Harmony: the musical, Dracula: the Musical, Annie: the 20th Anniversary, Twelfth Night, The 1940’s Radio Hour, Me and My Girl, Fen, The Imaginary Invalid, Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean. On television she has guest starred in “Conviction,” “Sex and the City,” “Central Park West,” “Guiding Light,” “All My Children” and “As The World Turns.” Vocal Recordings include: her solo album Girl Talk, The Kurt Weill: Centennial, Johnny Mercer’s: Dream (both for The Actor’s Fund), Rodgers and Leonhart (featured guest artist). Jekyll & Hyde (Broadway Cast Album) Her one woman show, A Broad’s Way, is now booked at various locations throughout the United States. www.jodistevens.com|
|IAN MICHAEL STUART (Ensemble/u/s Anthony) Off-Broadway: Train to Chicago (York Theatre). Recent Regional: A Man of No Importance (Robbie) tick, tick…BOOM! (Broadwayworld nomination), Beauty and the Beast (MTW), West Side Story (Diesel), The Last Five Years (Los Angeles). Ian can be seen on the ANMT produced musical web-series The Sunset Players. Proud Graduate of the University of California, Irvine School of the Arts. Many thanks to Dom and the production team. Love to my dear friends, coaches, Jason, and KSR. For Mom and Dad. www.Ianmichaelstuart.com|
|BRIAN C VEITH (Ensemble) is thrilled to be working at Gateway on Sunset Boulevard and Sweeney Todd. Originally from California, he is lucky to be spending his summer performing near the beach. Past shows include Little Women, Ring of Fire, Follies, Annie Get Your Gun and Secret Garden. Thanks to Mom, Dad, family (both real and theatre), everyone at Gateway and the cast and crew. Marymount Manhattan College graduate. For more, check out BroadwayDemo.com/BrianCVeith. Psalms 103:1-5 Bless the Lord!|
|MEGAN WEAN (Ensemble/u/s Beggar Woman) An Ohio Native and a proud graduate from Wright State University with a B.F.A in Musical theatre/Dance, Megan is honored to be back at Gateway. Previous Gateway credits include Sunset Blvd., A Christmas Carol, and Happy Days. She was just recently seen on the National Tour of A Chorus Line. Selected credits: North Shore Music Theatre, Ogunquit Playhouse, Maine State Music Theatre, Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, Beef and Boards, The Palace Theatre, Prather, LaComedia and The Barn Theatre. Love to Dad, Kandis and Scott. It will always be for you Mom!|
|BRYAN WELNICKI (Tobias) is thrilled to be part of Gateway’s Sweeney Todd! A recent NYU graduate, past school credits include Sweeney Todd (Tobias), The Fix (Cal Chandler), Mrs. Sharp (Jake), and King David (Absalom), where he worked with composer Alan Menken. Bryan has performed Off-Broadway in NYMF’s The Toymaker (Doby), ICanHasCheesburger… at Fringe NYC (Drop) and in 4@15 at the York Theater. Other notable or favorite credits: Little Shop of Horrors (Seymour); Urinetown (Bobby Strong). Enjoy!|
|BRUCE WINANT (Judge Turpin) is thrilled to return to Gateway having appeared as Tateh in Ragtime and Charlemagne in Pippin. On Broadway: just completed the run of La Cage Aux Folles, Chicago (Amos), Ragtime (Tateh), Phantom of the Opera (Firmin), Fiddler on the Roof (Mordcha), Miss Saigon (Shultz) and My Favorite Year. Bruce also appeared as Pasquale in The Most Happy Fella at NY City Opera. On TV Bruce recently appeared in “Blue Bloods”, “Mildred Pierce”, “Law & Order: SVU”, “Boardwalk Empire” and past episodes of “Law & Order”, “The West Wing” and was a regular on the short lived NBC series, “First Years”. Love to Kristin, Arden and Jayce.|
|JOHN “JP” POLLARD (Production Stage Manager) returns for his fourth and final show of the 2011 Season here at Gateway, having previously stage managed the critically acclaimed productions of West Side Story, Legally Blonde – The Musical and Sunset Boulevard. JP got his start in the theatre over 30 years ago whileworking alongside the likes of Kaye Ballard, Imogene Coca, Cesar Romero, Betty Garrett and many others at Earl Holliman’s Fiesta Dinner Playhouse, in his hometown of San Antonio, TX. Since those early years, he has stage managed from the east coast to the west coast and everywhere in between. Career highlights include the seven-month, SRO San Francisco run of The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life In The Universe starring Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Lily Tomlin, four seasons at New Jersey’s own Paper Mill Playhouse, and an International production of Grease which toured both Germany and Switzerland. In addition to theatre, he has also spent time as personal assistant to actress Sarah Jessica Parker. Proud Equity member since 1983. “My work, as always, is dedicated to my family and friends.” www.johncourtneypollard.com|
|JOSE M RIVERA (Costume Designer) is thrilled to return to The Gateway after designing this season’s hit productions of West Side Story and S’Wonderful. An award winning designer, recent credits include: Footloose and Crazy for You for The Cape Playhouse; A Little Night Music, The Unexpected Guest and Sisters of Swing for The Gretna Theatre; Crazy For You for The Maltz Jupiter Theatre and The Feature Film “Collar.” You can catch his work on The Lifetime Network with the films: “The Perfect Nanny,” “The Perfect Wife,” “Blind Obsession,” “Facing The Enemy” and “She’s No Angel;” On SoapNet with “One Minute Soap Opera;” On VH-1 and Reality TV with “Strip Search” and in local video stores with “The Storyteller;” “Evil Alien Conquerors;” “National Lampoon’s TV The Movie” and “Destination Mars.” His designs have been worn by such stars as: Rebecca DeMornay, Tom Sizemore, Tori Spelling, Deidrich Bader, Beth Grant, Ann Walker, Chris Parnell, Bruce Boxleitner, Tracy Nelson, Tracy Gold, Dee Wallace Stone, Marla Maples, Grace Jones, CeCe Penniston, Peabo Bryson and Bill Hayes. Mr. Rivera has won the 2011 Carbonell Award for Best Costume Design for La Cage Aux Folles and The 2008 Carbonell Award for Best Costume Design for The Boyfriend, both at The Maltz Jupiter Theatre; The ITL Award for Best Costume Design for The Will Rogers Follies in Los Angeles; An Emmy Award for “Groucho: A Life In Revue” and The Barrymore Award for “My One And Only.” He dedicates his work to the spirit and energy of his parents and to his mentor, Theoni V. Aldredge. Mr. Rivera is represented by PipeLine Entertainment Inc. in Los Angeles and New York. www.jmrcostumedesigns.com|
|DAVID ESLER (Set Designer), a lifelong Sondheim addict, is delighted to be joining Gateway for Sweeney Todd. NYC: Theatre Row, PS122, HERE, Chelsea Playhouse, the Ohio, Westbeth, Algonquin and Greenwich St. Theatres, Personal Space Theatrics, International WOW. Regional & stock: ATF, Maltz Jupiter, Cape Playhouse, Stamford TheatreWorks, Princeton Rep, Bickford Theatre, Stage One Wichita, Augusta Opera, and the Hangar, Surflight and Muhlenberg summer theatres. Casino showrooms: Eldorado, Tropicana, Trump Plaza. Collaborators: Gabriel Barre, Lynn Taylor-Corbett, Stafford Arima, Scott Schwartz, Dan Knechtges, Raúl Esparza, Doug Varone. David holds an MFA from NYU/Tisch and is a proud member of USA Local 829.|
|JEFF HOFFMAN (Musical Director) Jeff has been a professional musical director for the past thirty-five years. He has worked as an accompanist, arranger, and conductor. Jeff has shared the stage as pianist/ conductor with Joe Piscopo, Phyllis Diller, David Brenner, Red Buttons, and Rip Taylor. This year marks Jeff’s tenth anniversary with Gateway Playhouse. At Gateway, Jeff has been musical director for: Fosse, Beauty And The Beast, Drowsy Chaperone and Spamalot. He is also the musician contractor for the theater. Jeff would like to thank Dom, Robin and Paul for trusting him with this amazing work of art, and for helping to fulfill a thirty-two year dream! Love, and thanks to wife Diane, and boys Matt and Bobby for all of their undying support!!!|
|BRIAN LOESCH (Lighting Designer/Production Manager) is proud to be part of the Gateway Family for his fourteenth straight season. Gateway Playhouse lighting design credits include: A Christmas Carol (2006 & 2010), Avenue Q, Sophisticated Ladies, Forbidden Broadway (2008), The Full Monty, A Holiday Spectacular On Ice (2004 & 2009), South Pacific, Footloose, Jesus Christ Superstar, Kiss Me Kate, Holiday Hop (1999), Urinetown, Mooseltoe, Cabaret and numerous children’s theatre productions including Peter Pan (2004) and Jungle Book (2005). Brian graduated with a Degree in Technical Theatre from Suffolk County Community College. Other design credits include Language of Angels (Henry Street Experimental Theatre, NYC), Paraffin Touch (World Premiere at Suffolk County Community College), The Man Who Would Be King (World Premiere at the Antrim Playhouse), and Kiss Me Kate (Cape Fear Regional Theatre). National Tour credits include George M!
(2003 Candlewood Int./ Mainstage Productions), Titanic (2004 Candlewood Int.), A Holiday Spectacular On Ice (2004 A Gateway / Candlewood Production), Mame (2005-06 Candlewood Int.), Camelot (2006-07 Candlewood Int.), and the 2007 and 2008 productions of Mooseltoe (Semmelman Productions).
|DOM RUGGIERO (Director) is known for his directorial work in the United States as well as in Great Britain, South America, Europe and Australia. His works include a run of the world-renowned version of the Yeston/Kopit Phantom throughout the U.S., and LaTraviata at New York City Opera. Audiences throughout Italy viewed his production of West Side Story. Most recently his work has been seen in the national tours of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Titanic, George M!, My One and Only and Mame. Dom directed Louisiana Purchase, sponsored by Louisiana State University for their Bicentennial program of celebrations. Dom made his Off-Broadway debut at Playhouse 91 with a production of The Secret Annex; a new musical based on the story of Anne Frank. Other Off-Broadway credits include The New York City debut of Stephen Sondheim’s The Frogs, and an original musical version of Sheridan’s School for Scandal entitled, SCANDAL!. He has also directed the Australian, Asian, and South American tours of Ain’t Misbehavin’, the Asian tour of Anything Goes, a European tour of Phantom of the Opera in Copenhagen and Geneva. For the U.S., Dom has directed the national companies of Song & Dance, Shenandoah, Funny Girl and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Dom has been a Resident Director at The Gateway Playhouse for the past 20 years. Represented by over 35 musical and comedy productions, Rumors, Lend Me A Tenor, Into the Woods, Once On This Island, The Secret Garden, Beehive, Cabaret, Big River, Carousel and Tommy are among his favorites. Regional credits include productions of Romance, Romance, I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It Out on the Road, Pump Boys & Dinettes, Little Shop of Horrors, Working, Company, South Pacific and Grease. Dom received The Connecticut Critics Circle Award for his production of Phantom and the Best Director and Best Musical awards for his production of Tommy. He has also been the recipient of Best Director awards for his direction of Into the Woods, Big River and Little Shop of Horrors. Dom is the co-creator and director of his original review, The Magic of Musicals, which played an extended run in Athens and Thessaloniki Greece.|
|ROBIN JOY ALLAN (Artistic Director) In her life bio, Robin includes 40 years performing, casting, teaching and directing, with much of that overlapping, taking her from one coast to the other and back. The films “When Harry Met Sally,” “Lord Of The Flies,” “Parenthood,” and “Ghost” are on her casting resume as well as one-hundred and thirty-nine Main Stage productions for Gateway. She feels blessed and hopes to continue to give back to the universe as much as she has been given. Robin lives in Brookhaven Hamlet with her amazing daughter Hayley and constant companions Lucy Dog, Mopsy and Momma Kitty.|
|PAUL ALLAN (Producer) has been producing the seasons here at Gateway since the 1980’s. Paul’s grandfather (Harry Pomeran) was the first producer of Gateway in 1950, followed by his uncle (David Sheldon), his parents (Ruth and Stan Allan), and together with his sister Robin. Paul has been able to work in NYC on various shows in different capacities, run a touring company with shows traveling around the country and abroad, operate a sister theatre in Connecticut, act as consultant and facilitator for the restoration and reopening of the Patchogue Theatre, and maintain a set rental business - where Gateway scenery is used in theatres across the country after appearing on the Gateway stage. Paul appreciates, admires and honors his family’s dedication to the arts and is proud to help continue the legacy. Paul lives in Bellport with his wife Annmarie and their 2 children - Luke 6 and Alexa 4.|
|HUGH WHEELER (Writer) Hugh Wheeler was a novelist, playwright and screen writer. He wrote more than thirty mystery novels under the pseudonyms Q. Patrick and Patrick Quentin, and four of his novels were transformed into films: Black Widow, Man in the Net, The Green-Eyed Monster and The Man with Two Wives. For films he wrote the screenplays for “Travels with My Aunt,” “Something for Everyone,” “A Little Night Music” and “Nijinsky.” His plays include Big Fish, Little Fish (1961), Look: We’ve Come Through (1961) and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1966, adapted from the Shirley Jackson novel), he co-authored with Joseph Stein the book for a new production of the 1919 musical Irene (1973), wrote the books for A Little Night Music (1973), a new production of Candide (1973), Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979, based on a version of the play by Christopher Bond), and Meet Me in St. Louis (adapted from the 1949 M-G-M musical), contributed additional material for the musical Pacific Overtures (1976), and wrote a new adaptation of the Kurt Weill opera Silverlake, which was directed by Harold Prince at the New York Opera. He received Tony and Drama Desk Awards for A Little Night Music, Candide and Sweeney Todd. Prior to his death in 1987 Mr. Wheeler was working on two new musicals, Bodo and Fu Manchu, and a new adaptation of The Merry Widow.|
|STEPHEN SONDHEIM Stephen Sondheim, one of the most influential and accomplished composer/lyricists in Broadway history, was born in New York City and raised in New York and Pennsylvania. As a teenager he met Oscar Hammerstein II, who became Sondheim’s mentor. Sondheim graduated from Williams College, where he received the Hutchinson Prize for Music Composition. After graduation he studied music theory and composition with Milton Babbitt. He worked for a short time in the 1950s as a writer for the television show “Topper;” his first professional musical theatre job was as the songwriter for the unproduced musical Saturday Night. He wrote the lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959) and Do I Hear A Waltz? (1965), as well as additional lyrics for Candide (1973). Musicals for which he has written both music and lyrics include A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1962), Anyone Can Whistle (1964), Company (1970 - 1971 Tony Award Music and Best Lyrics), Follies (1971 - 1972 Tony Award Score and New York Drama Critics Circle Award; revised in London, 1987), A Little Night Music (1973 - Tony Award Score), The Frogs (1974), Pacific Overtures (1976 - New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award), Sweeney Todd (1979 - Tony Award Score), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday In The Park With George (1984 - New York Drama Critics Circle Award; 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), Into The Woods (1987 - Tony Award Score), Assassins (1991) and Passion (1994 - Tony Award Score). He composed the songs for the television production “Evening Primros” (1966), co-authored the film “The Last of Sheila” (1973) and provided incidental music for “The Girls of Summer” (1956), “Invitation to a March” (1961) and “Twigs” (1971). “Side By Side By Sondheim” (1976), “Marry Me A Little” (1981), ”You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow” (1983; originally presented as A Stephen Sondheim Evening) and “Putting It Together” (1993) are anthologies of his work. He has written scores for the films “Stavisky” (1974) and “Reds” (1981), and composed songs for the film “Dick Tracy” (1990 - Academy Award for Best Song). He is on the Council of the Dramatist Guild, the national association of playwrights, composers and lyricists, having served as its president from 1973 until 1981, and in 1983 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1990 he was appointed the first Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University. He was also recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993.|
|MUSIC THEATRE INTERNATIONAL (MTI) is one of the world’s leading dramatic licensing agencies, granting schools as well as amateur and professional theatres from around the world the rights to perform the largest selection of great musicals from Broadway and beyond. MTI works directly with the composers, lyricists and book writers of these shows to provide official scripts, musical materials and dynamic theatrical resources to over 60,000 theatrical organizations in the US and in over 60 countries worldwide. MTI is particularly dedicated to the idea of theatre as education and has created special collections for younger performers. The MTI Broadway Junior Collection® includes “JR.” titles, 60-minute musicals for performance by middle school children; and “KIDS” titles, 30-minute musicals for performance by elementary school children. MTI School Editions™ are musicals that have been annotated for performance by high school students, and the Theatre For Young Audiences (TYA) Collection are 70-minute musicals designed for adults to perform for children. MTI ShowSpace.com is the theatre world’s online community where practitioners and fans from around the world share advice, photos, videos, sets, props, costumes and more, to help bring their next productions to life.|
September 2, 2011
An Unbalanced Barber Returns, With Ample Blood
...it’s a thumping good theatrical event featuring soaring voices, twisted comedy, gripping melodrama and ample amounts of squirting blood. (Read complete review here)
August 30, 2011
It's taken three decades for "Sweeney Todd," the dark but droll Sondheim masterpiece, to make its debut at Gateway Playhouse.
It's worth the wait.
Premiering in 1979, the American musical based on a British fable has become a regional theater staple throughout the English-speaking world.
Smartly directed by Dom Ruggiero, this "Demon Barber of Fleet Street" hews closer to Harold Prince's Broadway original than the 2005 revival in which each actor also played an instrument, and veers far from the 2007 movie in which Johnny Depp turned the angry barber into a matinee idol. Deploying a visual theme of staircases to nowhere -- wheeled about David Esler's grim set (soot-suggestive lighting by Brian Loesch, Victorian costumes by José Rivera) -- Ruggiero implies a second-story path to oblivion. That's the path Todd chooses when he restores his barbershop above Mrs. Lovett's squalid meat-pie emporium.
Todd, played by Jamie Jackson with a maniacal sneer that melts whenever fond memories breech his guard, returns to London following a 15-year banishment on false charges. His landlady informs him that his wife poisoned herself after the judge who exiled Todd raped her. Judge Turpin now means to force Todd's daughter, Johanna, to marry him.
Mrs. Lovett feeds Todd what she gleefully calls "The Worst Pies in London" before she recognizes him as her former tenant and fetches his gleaming razors. Seeking vengeance by means of a too-close shave, Todd conspires with Mrs. Lovett to increase her meat supply at a cutthroat rate.
Alicia Irving's operatic lilt contrasts harmoniously with Jackson's baleful bellow as their menu expands with each verse of "A Little Priest," the cleverest song about cannibalism ever devised. Bonnie Fraser as Johanna and Ken Clark as the suitor who plots her rescue are vocal chemistry mates, while Bruce Winant as Judge Turpin presents a pitiable, self-flagellating villain. Bryan Welnicki as the street urchin Mrs. Lovett takes in shows heartfelt gratitude in "Not While I'm Around."
Jodi Stevens as a pesky beggar, Robert Anthony Jones as the judge's sidekick and Scott Emerson as Todd's shaving rival round out a melodious cast accompanied with flawless exuberance by Jeff Hoffman's 10-piece orchestra. For those who've not seen any of myriad "Sweeney Todd" predecessors to Gateway's, be warned: The razor drips with blood.
August 27, 2011
(print version in Dans Papers awaiting publication)
Perhaps it is as well that this was the last production of the 2011 series because I am in danger of running out of superlatives. Just when I thought nothing could beat their last production of ‘Sunset Boulevard’, lo and behold, Gateway did it with their first ever production of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Sweeney Todd’.
Despite the macabre nature of the story, for me, Sondheim created the best ever musical when he wrote the music and lyrics back in 1979. He also created one of the most difficult to perform with its intricate musical changes of meter and keys plus Sondheim’s inimitably intricate verses that demand absolute precision in performance.
The casting for this show is perfection. All major and minor characters are played by actors with great voices and astounding acting ability. Sweeney Todd is a poor barber transported to Australia on trumped up charges by a corrupt judge who desires his wife. Sweeney manages to escape after fifteen years and returns to London intent on wrecking vengeance on the judge. His downward progress into the depths of depravity is chronicled by a ‘street chorus’ who add so much to the tensions and darkness of the story as it unfolds from the opening moment when they declaim, ‘Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd, he served a dark and a vengeful god’. Sweeney is played by Jamie Jackson, whose brilliant acting and great voice fill the role with scary passion, especially in the intense ‘Epiphany’ when Sweeney transforms from a husband seeking revenge for what happened to his wife to a demon filled crazed man intent on randomly killing his unsuspecting customers, who come in for a shave and never leave through the front door, as he works to satisfy his dark and vengeful god. Sweeney is aided and abetted by Mrs. Lovett whose meat pie business is facing ruin because of a meat shortage. The availability of a ready supply of a different type of meat seems to her too good to miss and ‘The Best Pies in London’ are the result! Only Sondheim could make this macabre Grand Guignol affair into a demonic yet comedic duet where Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett discuss the relative merits of pies made from amongst others, priests, lawyers and the one I love best, the ‘Shepherds pie with genuine shepherd on top’. Alicia Irvine is wonderful as Mrs. Lovett. She has the voice to hold its own against the powerful Jamie Jackson and she runs the whole gamut of emotions from her growing sexual feelings for Sweeney as she wishes for a day ‘By the Sea’ to her almost maternal feelings for the half witted Tobias (Brian Welnicki), who eventually proves to be their nemesis as she too slowly disintegrates into the madness that engulfs Sweeney, while the pair rush to their mutual self destruction.
Bruce Winant as the evil Judge Turpin and Robert Anthony Jones as his side kick the loathsome Beadle Bamford make you understand something of the horrors that have affected Sweeney especially as the judge lusts after Johanna, (Bonnie Fraser), his young ward, Sweeney’s daughter left alone after her mother Lucy had been raped by the judge and becomes a madwoman. Anthony (Ken Clark) the young sailor who meets and falls in love with Lucy provides the sweet moments of the show, especially as Anthony sings ‘Johanna’ and they both express their growing love in the duet ‘Kiss Me’.
The sets by David Esler are strikingly minimalist and perfectly fit the style of the show as do the costumes designed by Jose M. Rivera. The orchestra under Jeff Hoffman plays this very difficult score superbly and Dom Ruggiero’s expertise in direction and staging is seen to the full in this production.
Stephen Sondheim is on record as saying that he always ‘wanted to see if you could scare people with music, especially a 20th century audience which just came off the streets where there are much worse things going on’. Well he succeeded and in doing so created a masterpiece that anyone who loves the musical theater should see at least once. This production at Gateway is absolutely first class and will enthrall you for the whole evening. Go and see this show and be thankful that we have on Long Island Gateway, this exceptional company, that has brought us season after season of wonderful productions that regularly rival Broadway and London for quality.
The show runs until September 11th and tickets are available at 631 286 1133
August 31, 2011
It wasn't until we were in the deep depths of the first act of Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Gateway Playhouse that I realized something. Stephen Sondheim has a way of evoking strange emotions out of his audience: creating human ties to men (and women) plotting to kill the Presidents of the United States (Assassins); evoking comedy as a young woman hysterically decides she's not ready to marry the morning of her wedding (Company); and moving a crowd as an artist triumphantly tops off his painting with a hat, as he mutters to himself (Sunday in the Park with George).
And here it was happening again on a muggy Friday evening in Bellport.
The audience was beside themselves with laughter as Mrs. Lovett joyously proclaimed she would be using human remains to improve "the worst pies in London." Under normal circumstances, we would be disgusted and steer clear of that establishment. (In New York, a brightly-colored F would adorn her front window.) And even though we think it's disgusting, we laugh and grin. Sondheim is always able to toy with our emotions, and we want him to!
Sweeney Todd, originally a play by Christopher Bond, tells the dark and twisted tale of a barber, Benjamin Barker, who returns to London under the guise of Sweeney Todd after being falsely accused of a crime and banned to Australia. While hoping to reunite with his wife and daughter, he soon finds out from Mrs. Lovett, his old neighbor and the pie-shop owner, that his wife poisoned herself after she was raped by the judge amongst a crowd, the same judge who sent Sweeney away and now has possession of his daughter. Immediately, Sweeney is out for revenge, revitalizing his barber business and waiting for the chance to make the judge pay. Of course, things get complicated quickly. Throw in contemptuous coincidences, an innocent love story, and some blood and you have yourself quite a dark comedy.
If the ability to sway an audience from shock to happiness to horror to sympathy and back again is the measure of a show's success, I'd say Gateway's current production of Sweeney Todd scores off the charts. Add in the eerie orchestrations, the impressive sopranos, and an electrifying chemistry amongst the actors, as well as the well-crafted and swiftly moving set, and you have yourself a fine cut. In the theater's final production of their summer series, they conquer a challenging musical and connect with their audience in a way that would make Sondheim proud.
Jamie Jackson's portrayal of Sweeney is a full body event -- the penetrating eyes, the aggressiveness of his movements, and the ability to transform seamlessly from heartbroken husband and father to vengeful monster. He is a tough character to crack. While Jackson could have easily made Sweeney a person to fear, he makes it impossible for the audience not to feel compassion for him. And of course there is Mrs. Lovett, played by Alicia Irving, who trots and twirls around the stage like a young school girl eager to please Mr. Todd. Carefully and subtly, her darker side reveals itself -- most effectively as she rocks a young Tobias during "Not When I'm Around."
Together, Jackson and Irving form a strong team as they ride a delicate line between triumph and destruction.
Something also has to be said about the magic of live theater. During the rousing performance of "By the Sea", there was a minor blip when Ms. Irving's chair arm broke off under her. Never once did she break character or miss a note. She heroically played up the comedy. Those little moments remind us why theater is so special -- no two performances are ever the same.
Most moving, though, were the performances of Bonnie Fraser (Johanna), Bryan Welnicki (Tobias) and Jodi Stevens (Beggar Woman). Ms. Fraser fit the mind, body, soul, and sound of Joanna -- innocent, caged, and confused, while Welnicki dutifully played the purest heart of the entire show with a strong, beautiful voice and devastingly convincing demise as the production moved to a close. Even those who are not familiar with Sweeney Todd can't help but be drawn to the Beggar Woman, whether it be for her down and dirty comedy or sudden melodies. Nonetheless, Ms. Stevens serves as the conscience of the play, the reminder that your heart is still ticking under the engrossing storyline.
In the end, it takes more than a strong story to ensure a satisfied audience. Gateway Playhouse has delivered the full package with Sweeney Todd -- the music remains chilling, the sets and the costumes are well-done and believable, and most importantly, they have taken a musical first staged thirty-two years ago on Broadway and made it just as relevant today. There is no doubt audiences left the theatre discussing the implications and true meanings behind this story, and just like I did, continued to hum the music for the rest of the weekend and beyond.
Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is playing now through September 11th at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, NY. For scheduling and tickets, please visit www.gatewayplayhouse.org.
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|Anthony Hope||KEN CLARK*|
|Beggar Woman||JODI STEVENS*|
|Mrs. Nellie Lovett||ALICIA IRVING*|
|Beadle Bamford||ROBERT ANTHONY JONES*|
|Judge Turpin||BRUCE WINANT*|
|Tobias Ragg||BRYAN WELNICKI|
|Adolfo Pirelli||SCOTT EMERSON|
|Jonas Fogg||NATHAN ANDERSON|
|Ensemble||NATHAN ANDERSON, DEREK BASTHEMER, KRISTINE BENNETT, PEYTON CRIM, CAITLIN FISCHER, KEVIN GUTCHES, MATTHEW HOFFMAN, RYAN KOERBER, MADISON MULVEY, MIA MULVEY, JESSICA NORLAND, MATTHEW NOWAK, KIMBERLY SHERBACH, IAN MICHAEL STUART, BRIAN C VEITH, MEGAN WEAN, MILES WHITTAKER|
MICHAEL EDWARD BAKER*
|Mrs. Lovett||JESSICA NORLAND|
|Beggar Woman||MEGAN WEAN|
|Anthony||IAN MICHAEL STUART|
|Judge Turpin||PEYTON CRIM|
|Keyboard 2||KATE VAN ESSENDELFT|
|Piano||JOHN P. MURPHY|
Board of Directors
|Executive Producer||Ruth Allan|
|Associate Producer||Jeff Bellante|
|General Manager||Dom Ruggiero|
|Company Manager||Michael Baker|
|Director of Development/ Assistant to the Producer||Scot Patrick Allan|
|Administrative Assistant||Lauren Windsor|
|Artistic/Casting Director||Robin Joy Allan|
|Associate Casting/Artistic Director||Jessica Harrison|
|Musical Director||Jeffrey Hoffman|
|Assistant Musical Director||John P. Murphy|
|Costume Design||Jose M Rivera|
|Lighting Designer||Brian Loesch|
|Scenic Design||David Esler|
|Sound Consultants||Dominic Sac, Cody Spencer|
|Wig Design||David Brian Brown|
|Resident Wig Designer||Trent Pcenicni|
|Production Photographer||Jeff Bellante|
|Musical Contractor||Jeff Hoffman|
|Assistant Lighting Designers||Justin Hoffman, Jose Santiago|
|Box Office Manager||Laurie Parr|
|House Manager||Joanne Famiglietti|
|Box Office Staff||Beth Harrison, Nadine Hazard, Diane Koerber, Christina Montaldo, Don Rebar, Kyle Reitan, Francesca Welhous|
|Production Manager||Brian Loesch|
|Production Stage Manager||John "JP" Pollard|
|Technical Director||Mo G. Guiberteau|
|Wardrobe Supervisor||Marianne Dominy|
|Master Electricians||Rev. Jose "El Jefe" Santiago|
|Sound Engineer||Adam Shubert|
|Scenic Charge||Keeley Dorwart|
|Prop Master||Robert Bursztyn|
|Assistant Production Manager||Justin Hoffman|
|Assistant Master Electrician||Matthew Daurio|
|Assistant Technical Director||Dennis R. Berfield|
|Shop Foreman||Charlie J. Bell|
|Technicians||Ryan Brooke, Elan Burstin, Mark Frederick, Maxx Henry, Corey Kloos, Greg Marullo, Elizabeth Nosewicz, Brendan Smith|
|Wigs & Makeup Supervisor||Trent Pcenicni|
|Wardrobe Assistant/Sticher||Natalie Ferris|
|Company Management Intern||Cassandra Levey|
|Electrics Interns||Erin Feil|
|Sound Interns||Zach Ireson, Maria Sanchez|
|Wardrobe Interns||Samantha Abbott, Amber Mallon|
|General Technician Interns||Rob Brey, Eddie Massari|
|Facilities Manager||Mark Frederick|
|Concessions and Hospitality Manager||Blake Armitstead|
|Cleaning Contractor||Elio Sanchez, Maria Sanchez|
|Grounds Maintenance||HTM Landscaping Company|
|House Staff||Ethan Bellante, Julia Bellante, Ryan Hudak, Ajay Persaud, Jonathan Smaldone, Kevin Spellman, Ed Wacera|
|General Counsel||Ann L. Nowak|