“Sweeney” scheduled to please audiences

Posted Thursday, September 23, 2010 - 4:52pm

Despite the loss of several cast members and conflicting schedules, “Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is progressing nicely.

Corey Ewan Ph.D., director of“Sweeney Todd,” said that directing a musical is different from directing legitimate theatre. “To begin with, you really need a good musical director and accompanist. They make all the difference in the world.”

He continued, “I really have a limited musical background. I’m lucky that on occasion I can carry tune. It’s usually in a bag, but I can carry it. I really have to rely on those so much more talented than myself.”

The musical director for “Sweeney Todd” is former CEU music professor and dean of students, Jay Andrus. “He brings a wealth of experience with him to this production.” He was the musical director for many past CEU productions including “The Fantasticks,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and “Of Thee I Sing.” He was a long-time member of Castle Valley Community Theatre working on many of their productions.

“Jana Hoyt has graciously accepted to share her considerable talent with us,” Ewan said. “She knew the music from day one and plays it as if she has been doing it since the play first premiered.” She has accompanied the junior high and high school choirs as well as many who have performed solo works. Her talent is evident at every rehearsal.

“For a musical to work, it takes more than just helping cast members develop their characters and moving them on stage. With the help of the musical team, these actors are moving beyond their comfort zones and creating some moving and powerful moments as they sing,” Ewan said.

“I sometimes struggle with the actors because they are so busy judging their performances that they sometimes refuse to believe me when I have complimented their work. But, I must say I get excited when they succeed. We had some guests on Friday night during rehearsal and they were impressed with what they heard even at this early stage in the rehearsal process,” Ewan said. The next step is to add the live music to the orchestrations we already have. Greg Benson, vice chancellor of academics for USU-CEU, will join the cast at rehearsals this next week. This will add another exciting element to this production.

With such a large cast and conflicting schedules, the production has lost some of the actors recently. Ewan said, “Doing a play is a difficult and sometimes tedious process, especially for those not already familiar with the rigors of rehearsals. It is time consuming, often stealing time from homework, work and leisure. Some of the cast members felt they were falling behind or felt overwhelmed. I can certainly sympathize.”

This is Ewan’s 70th production including plays directed for the Old Lyric Repertory Company, Actor’s Repertory Ensemble, and plays performed as an actor. “So, yes, I can sympathize. If I were to count up the hours of rehearsal time it would probably add up to about 30 years. Scary. I’ve got to get a life,” he joked.

This production looks to be exciting and will surprise many, Ewan said. “Sweeney’s” dates are Thursday-Tuesday, October 7-12 at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday being dark. Ticket prices for students are $3 for USU-CEU students with their activity cards.

“We want remind you as well of the upcoming Old Lyric Rep/Caine College of the Arts production of, ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare . . . Abridged,’ on Friday, Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. at the Rio Theatre in Helper. USU-CEU Students with their current activity cards can get in for $5,” Ewan said.

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