"What an achievement this show is… a TERRIFIC new production!” –SB Independent
“An EXTRAORDINARY work of art … See it!” –CASA Magazine
"An absolute WINNER.” –Richard Mineards, Montecito Journal
“One of the most POWERFUL productions in the annals of area theater!” –Barney Bratingham, SB Independent
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim & Book by Hugh Wheeler
October 8 – 25, 2015
Sondheim returns to ETC with a soaring musical masterpiece that tells the tale of a barber seeking justice for the corrupt London judge who exiled him. Partnered with a delicious pie shop proprietress, they exact a fearsome revenge as she concocts an alarming new recipe that has the people of London lining up. Hysterically funny and chillingly intense! Sponsored by Dana White. Directed by Jonathan Fox.
2015-16 Season sponsored by The Stephen and Carla Hahn Foundation
David Studwell (photo: David Bazemore)
Sweeney Todd has become a bloody, worldwide success since being awarded 8 TONY's, one of them for Best Musical, for its Broadway premiere. Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler (A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures) crafted a tasty, thrilling, theatrical treat with Sweeney Todd that has simultaneously shocked, awed, and delighted audiences across the world.
An infamous tale, Sweeney Todd, an unjustly exiled barber, returns to 19th century London seeking vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. The road to revenge leads Todd to Mrs. Lovett, a resourceful owner of a failing pie shop, above which he opens a new barber practice. Mrs. Lovett's luck sharply shifts when Todd's thirst for blood inspires the integration of an ingredient into her meat pies, and the carnage has only just begun!
Featuring two unforgettable star turns and some of the most chilling music ever written for the stage, this masterpiece is sure to both thrill and delight audiences.
Recommended for ages 12 and up.
Heather Ayers (Mrs. Lovett) is trilled to be returning to ETC after appearing as Charlotte in A Little Night Music & Mrs. Van Buren in Intimate Apparel. Her Broadway credits include Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, with Harry Connick Jr., & Trevor Nunn’s A Little Night Music. Off-Broadway, Heather has been seen in several Encores! productions, Five Course Love, Forbidden Broadway, and Sarah, Plain, & Tall. Regionally, she has performed at Yale Rep, The Old Globe, Barrington Stage, St. Louis Rep, Kansas City Rep, & Cincinnati Playhouse, among others. TV credits include “Scandal,” “The Exes,” “Lights Out,” & “Z Rock.” Much thanks to Jonathan, Aleah, & Dianne!
Justin Cowden (Pirelli) is both honored and proud to be making his Ensemble Theatre Company debut with the incredible cast and crew of Sweeney Todd! Notable credits: A Town Without Pity (Singer), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Joseph), A Few Good Men (Kaffee), and most recently the critical hit Memphis at Cabrillo Music Theatre (Perry Como). Justin has voiced several popular cartoons and video games including Guaka on "The Emperor's New School," and Hayner in "Kingdom Hearts 2!" Very special thanks to my incredible agent, Anthony Boyer, for believing in me, my Voice teacher, Mary Jo Duprey, for her incredible training, and my Father in-Law, Kent Marman, for taking care of my girls and my pups. Love to my amazing family! This show is dedicated to my beautiful wife, Lexi, and our GREATEST achievement, "Layni Rose!" To God be the Glory!
Karole Foreman (Beggar Woman) recently appeared as Rose in International City Theater’s production of Fences in Long Beach. Last season Karole played Esther in ETC’s production of Intimate Apparel. Other roles: Julia Augustine in Antaeus’ production of Wedding Band and Diana Goodman in Next to Normal with Cal Rep. Other Productions: Long Beach Opera: Difficulty of Crossing a Field and Queenie Pie. PCPA: Caroline or Change (Caroline). Alliance Theatre: Jelly’s Last Jam (Anita). Mandalay Bay: Tanya in Mamma Mia! Worked with L.A. Women’s Shakespeare Co., two seasons with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and performed in numerous regional theaters across the country. Awards: Stage Raw Nomination for Best Actress in Wedding Band, OC Weekly 2014 Best of Award and Scenie Award for Next to Normal. Suzi Bass for Jelly’s Last Jam, Garland for As Bees in Honey Drown, Robby Nomination for Carla, Drama Logue Awards for Minamata, The Illusion, and Whole World is Watching. TV: "Gortimer Gibbons," "Switched at Birth," "Rizzoli & Isles," "Murder in the First," "The Kroll Show," "Pretty Little Liars," "See Dad Run," "Grey’s Anatomy," "Bones," "Medium," "Law & Order," "Third Watch," "The Bold and the Beautiful." Film: 42, Buddy Solitaire, and Rebirth.
Parker Harris (Jonas Fogg) has been doing musical theatre all his life. His highlighted roles include Riff in the Rubicon Theatre Company's production of West Side Story and Robert Martin in the Rubicon's production of The Drowsy Chaperone. He sang with the VC choir for three years and now continues his vocal and dance training. He is excited to be in his first show with Ensemble Theatre Company and honored to be working with such a professional and talented cast. He hopes you enjoy the show.
Chris Kauffmann (Tobias) ETCSB debut! This marks Chris' fourth production of Sweeney Todd (and third as Tobias), including critically acclaimed productions at Goodspeed Musicals and Casa Mañana both directed by Gabriel Barre. Chris appeared as Princeton/Rod in Avenue Q (DOMA Theatre Company, Ovation nomination) and was in the West Coast Premiere of Real Men: a Musical for Guys and the Woman Who Put Up With Them (PVPA). Chris can also be seen as Iago in the record-breaking run of Disney's Aladdin: a Musical Spectacular. Other credits: Courier in 1776 (Goodspeed), Mickey in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Off--Broadway), Busker Alley, Where's Charley? (Musical Theatre West), Prince Hal in The King's Face (The Blank Theatre), and Boop: a Cartoon Musical directed by David Foster. Film: Shadows on the Wall, and Ugly Benny. Chris sends many thanks to all at ETCSB, as well as Steven Dry and the Connor-Ankrum team for this rewarding opportunity, and love to his beautiful fiancée, Sandra. ChrisKauffmann.com.
Norman Large (Judge Turpin) has enjoyed an extremely varied career from principal artist with The New York City Opera to ten LA Ovation award nominations. From symphony engagements under Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa to playing more different guest starring roles on "Star Trek" than anyone in all of the series combined. From voicing characters in numerous Disney animated features to being recorded live at Carnegie Hall. From numerous original Broadway casts including Les Miserables (Bishop, Javert, Thenardier) to playing scenes with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. From dancing as star of CATS to playing opposite Leslie Nielson in Repossessed to standing by for Michael Crawford in The Phantom of the Opera. From recurring as a judge on "NYPD Blue" to touring Europe as Tony in West Side Story.
Michaelia Leigh (Johanna) is delighted to be making her ETC debut, and to reprise a role very dear to her heart. Other favorites include Light in the Piazza (Clara), Into the Woods (Cinderella), Oklahoma! (Laurey), 1776 (Martha Jefferson), Marvelous Wonderettes (Cindy Lou), Life Could Be a Dream (Lois), Miss Saigon (Ellen), Scarlet Pimpernel (Marguerite), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Hermia), Taming of the Shrew (Bianca), and Romeo & Juliet (Juliet). She has also traveled the world performing for Azamara Cruises and The Walt Disney Company. She would like to give a huge thank you to Jonathan, Matt, Amy, the entire ETC staff, and her wonderful friends and family for their endless support. Love to her husband, Andrew.
Craig McEldowney (Beadle Bamford) is making his Ensemble debut, and his 3rd return to this murderous and thrilling score — previous productions at the El Portal Theater in LA (Beadle) and Mendelssohn Theater in Ann Arbor, MI (Pirelli). Recent central coast credits include a concert version of The Secret Garden (Neville) at Rubicon, and Show Boat at Opera San Luis Obispo (Ravenal). Other regional credits include: Road Show (Addison) with MTG, Serrano (Papa, et al) at the Matrix, and Ragtime (Father) with 3D Theatricals. Tours: Jesus Christ Superstar (Judas u/s) and Grease (Doody). Proud AEA member and graduate of the University of Michigan.
Chirp @craigmceldowney, click www.craigmc.org, or stalk/like/poke facebook.com/craigmceldowney.
Michael Spaziani (Anthony) is thrilled to be making his ETC debut! LA credits: Violet (Monty), Adam & Eve & Steve (Adam - world premiere, original cast recording). Other regional credits: South Pacific (Cable), The Last Five Years, Altar Boyz (Matthew), On The Town (Gabey), Little Women (Laurie), The Great Gatsby (Gatsby), Much Ado About Nothing (Claudio), Into the Woods (Cinderella's Prince/Wolf), and Legally Blonde (Warner), among others. StageSceneLA's 2014-15 "Breakthrough Star of the Year - Musicals." Graduate of The Hartt School - BM Voice Performance/Music Management. Native of Nashua, NH. Thanks to Elena and his family for all the love and support! www.MichaelSpaziani.com
David Studwell (Sweeney Todd) makes his Ensemble Theatre Company debut in Sweeney Todd. Central Coast audiences may recognize David from his recent appearance as Cervantes/Don Quixote in PCPA'S production of Man of La Mancha at Solvang Theatrefest this past summer. He was seen off-Broadway in the NY City Center’s Encores! Applause! (Bert). Last year he performed in Sweeney Todd at TheatreWorks in Silicon Valley (Sweeney). He has appeared at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca NY in Red (Rothko), The Westchester Broadway Theatre in Titanic (Isidor Straus), and Portland Center Stage in Fiddler on the Roof (Tevye) for which he won the 2013 Drammy Award. Other regional theatres include Syracuse Stage, Indiana Repertory, The Alliance, The Goodman, Maltz Jupiter, and the Marriott’s Lincolnshire Theatre among others. Mr. Studwell was a company member for seven years at PCPA Theatrefest acting in over 35 productions there and worked for The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s educational outreach for two years. Mr. Studwell appeared in the film Dave Barry’s Guide to Guys and the TV series "Crime Story" on NBC. More information is available at www.davidstudwell.com.
Stephen Sondheim (Music & Lyrics) wrote the music and lyrics for Saturday Night (1954), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Anyone Can Whistle (1964), Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), The Frogs (1974), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Into the Woods (1987), Assassins (1991), Passion (1994) and Road Show (2008) as well as lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959) and Do I Hear A Waltz? (1965) and additional lyrics for Candide (1973). Anthologies of his work include Side by Side by Sondheim (1976), Marry Me A Little (1981), You're Gonna Love Tomorrow (1983), Putting it Together (1993/99) and Sondheim on Sondheim (2010). He composed the scores of the films Stavisky (1974) and Reds (1981) and songs for Dick Tracy (1990) and the television production “Evening Primrose” (1966). His collected lyrics with attendant essays have been published in two volumes: Finishing the Hat (2010) and Look, I Made A Hat (2011). In 2010 the Broadway theater formerly known as Henry Miller's Theatre was renamed in his honor.
Hugh Wheeler (Book) 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 MGM 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.
Jonathan Fox (Director/Executive Artistic Director) joined ETC in 2006. He directed ETC’s productions of Woyzeck, Amadeus, Metamorphoses, A Little Night Music, The Liar, Crime and Punishment, Creditors, Underneath the Lintel, Ghosts, Loot, The Glass Menagerie, Buried Child, Striking 12, Take Me Out, Old Wicked Songs, Thérèse Raquin, This Is How It Goes and Visiting Mr. Green. He directed Opera Santa Barbara's production of The Consul at the Granada Theatre. He is the recipient of seven Indy Awards. Recent European productions include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Streetcar Named Desire, Visiting Mr. Green and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the English Theatre of Frankfurt, and Old Wicked Songs, Crimes of the Heart, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Vienna English Theatre. Before joining ETC, Mr. Fox spent 12 years with Two River Theater Company in New Jersey, which he helped establish in 1994. He served as managing director of the company from 1994-99, and subsequently became its artistic director. For Two River, he directed over a dozen acclaimed productions. His production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was profiled in American Theatre Magazine, as was his festival of work by Samuel Beckett. His directing work has been seen in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Cologne, and has received critical acclaim in The New York Times, Variety, the LA Times, and other publications. He received his MFA from Columbia University, and is a recipient of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship. He has served as an adjunct faculty member in theatre departments at UCSB, Columbia University, University of Utah, and Monmouth University.
Matthew R. Meckes (Music Director) marks his first production with Ensemble Theatre Company with Sweeney Todd. Regional credits include Man of La Mancha, Peter and the Starcatcher, and San Patricios (PCPA), A Year With Frog and Toad, Grease, Always Patsy Cline, and Seussical (Post Playhouse). Assistant/Associate credits include Oklahoma, Spring Awakening, Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, and Christmas Is Here Again (PCPA), Drowsy Chaperone, Godspell (Post Playhouse), Next to Normal, and Shake-Rattle-Roll (Florida Studio Theatre). Meckes holds a degree in composition from Berklee College of Music with a concentration in conducting and vocal pedagogy. Special thanks to Jonathan Fox for the opportunity to tackle such a complex piece, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler for their incredible adaptation and contribution to the theatre, and to John and Jane Meckes for their never-ending love and support.
Brain Sidney Bembridge (Scenic and Lighting Design) is considered one of North America's most prolific scenic and lighting designers. Based in Chicago, Brian designs sets, lighting and costumes for theaters internationally in addition to playing an integral role in Chicago's distinguished theater community. He is a member of Lookingglass Theatre Company and Circle X Theater Co. and an Artistic Associate of Timeline Theatre Company, Teatro Vista, and Uma Productions. Brian is a native of Londonderry, New Hampshire, and received his Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts' School of Design and Production. Shortly after college, Brian assisted Alessandra Branca, when he got his big break in the business designing sets for Sony/Henson's Muppets From Space. He has since collaborated with directors, choreographers, musicians, and visual artists such as Gary Griffin, Christoph Esenbach, Nate Berkus, David Cromer, Brian Henson, Nilo Cruz, Gale Edwards, The Q Brothers, and Eduardo Vilaro. Brian has been profiled in Live Design, Lighting & Sound America, Entertainment Design Magazine, Lighting Dimensions, PLSN, Stage Directions, American Theater Magazine, Chicago Social, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and numerous other publications. He has been named one of the "Most Prolific Theater Artists of the Decade" by Time Out Chicago magazine and one of The "Top 50 Players in Chicago" Theatre by New City Magazine. The Chicago Sun-Times declared him one of "the finest theatrical architects in Chicago." Brian has been honored with six Joseph Jefferson Awards, five After Dark Awards including Outstanding Season, three LA Drama Critics Circle Awards, three Garland Awards, an Ovation Award, and a LA Weekly Award.
Dianne K. Graebner (Costume Design) is happy to be back at ETC, having previously designed Venus in Fur, Intimate Apparel, The Best Brothers, Amadeus, Red, Frankie and Johnny, Opus and Bell, Book and Candle. Her MFA in Costume/Set Design is from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. She has designed and created costumes nationwide in theatre, film and television. A few of her recent credits include: Breath & Imagination at Virginia Stage Company, The Brothers Karamazov (Ovation nomination) and Battle Hymn at Circle X, What I Learned in Paris, Breath and Imagination, Sex and Education and Falling for Make Believe at Colony Theatre, Dying City (Ovation Winner: Production of the Year) and the New Electric Ballroom at Rogue Machine, Dogeaters and Clay at Kirk Douglas Theatre, A Delicate Balance at The Odyssey Theatre, Bright Light City at LATC, 365 Days/365 Plays at Center Theatre Group, Philosophy of the World, and The Shaggs (original production). She has originated the costumes for many new works and world premieres. She is a member of United Scenic Artists Local-829. www.diannegraebner.com.
Avery Wheeler (Sound Design) has worked with Ensemble Theatre Company as resident sound engineer for Venus in Fur, Woyzeck, Intimate Apparel, The Best Brothers, Amadeus, Looped, Red, Metamorphoses, and Good People. A graduate of Musician’s Institute Hollywood, Avery was previously Assistant Engineer at Santa Barbara’s Playback Recording Studio, where he engineered audio for short films, music, national advertising campaigns, and television.
Jeff Mills (Fight Director) is best known in Santa Barbara for his work with Boxtales Theatre Company. With Boxtales he co-created, performed, toured and/or directed ten original plays between 2000 and 2010. Jeff is a director, actor, fight choreographer, musician and movement artist. With his new company, Proboscis, he wrote, directed, and performed in La La La Strada which premiered at Center Stage in Santa Barbara. Jeff teaches acting, movement and stage combat at UC Santa Barbara.
Amy Lieberman, CSA (Casting) has worked with Ensemble Theatre Company for eight seasons. The recipient of six CSA Artios Awards, with a total of twelve nominations. Broadway: The Dinner Party, Flower Drum Song, Big River. Recent Past: Reprise Theatre Company for three seasons. Center Theatre Group (Mark Taper Forum/Ahmanson/Kirk Douglas) 1999–2006, 1983-1989. Many regional theatres throughout the states as well as locally. L.A. TheatreWorks, Pasadena Playhouse, Ojai Playwrights Conference, The Granada, KCRW, Sundance Theatre Lab, Deaf West, Theatre@Boston Court, Falcon Theatre, Hollywood Theatre of the Ear. Film and television throughout the 90’s. Visiting Assoc. Prof. UCLA- MFA 3rd yr. graduate program 2007-2013.
Anna Jensen (Dramaturg) happily returns to Ensemble after serving as Dramaturg for Venus in Fur, Woyzeck, Intimate Apparel, The Best Brothers, Amadeus, Looped, Red, Metamorphoses, Good People, A Little Night Music, Creditors, Crime and Punishment, and The Liar. In March of 2013, Austin College in Texas produced her new translation and adaptation of When We Dead Awaken by Henrik Ibsen. She has her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, where she majored in Rhetoric, focusing on the rhetoric of historical discourse. Her master’s degree was from UC Santa Barbara, where she wrote on the playwright August Strindberg’s dramas as interpreted by the film and stage director Ingmar Bergman. Her dissertation research, also at UC Santa Barbara, considers how Norse Saga material was instrumental to Henrik Ibsen’s dramaturgy. She teaches full-time in Santa Barbara at the Brooks Institute.
Aleah Van Woert (Stage Manager) is pleased to be stage managing her third season with ETC. Previous credits include Black Pearl Sings!, Crime and Punishment, Bell, Book and Candle, The Liar, The Year of Magical Thinking, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, A Little Night Music, Good People, Metamorphoses, Red, Looped, Amadeus, The Best Brothers, Intimate Apparel, Woyzeck, and Venus in Fur. A resident of Santa Barbara for nine years, she has also stage managed over 20 shows for PCPA Theaterfest in Santa Maria and Solvang, including All My Sons, Hairspray, Caroline or Change, Pride and Prejudice, Peter Pan, Songs for a New World, Curtains, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Heart’s Desire, Art, and The Importance of Being Earnest. Originally from Fallon, Nevada, she graduated in 2003 from Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre Arts, emphasis in Stage Management.
Music Theatre International (MTI) is one of the world's leading theatrical 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.
- Book Club, October 13, 2015, 5:30 - 6:30pm: PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A SPECIAL TUESDAY DISCUSSION. Scripts are now available for checkout at the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 East Anapamu Street. Join other theatregoers for a lively discussion about the play from a literary and dramatic perspective. FREE!
- Pre-Show Talk, October 14 & 21, 2015 at 7:15 pm: Join us in the courtyard of The New Vic for an informative and insightful discussion about the play before you see it, sure to enhance your theatrical experience.
- Martini Night, October 16, 2015 at 7:15pm, performance at 8:00pm: Free to ticket holders. Come early to enjoy a complimentary martini and mingle before the show.
- Talk Back, October 22, 2015: Meet the cast after the show and discuss the production.
"A terrific new production!” says the Santa Barbara Independent. (read full review)
"In one of the most powerful productions in the annals of area theater, Ensemble Theatre Company is staging Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Brilliantly directed by Jonathan Fox with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, it’s a musical thriller, with bodies galore. They kept coming as I watched." - Barney Bratingham, SB Independent
"Jonathan Fox’s Direction is masterful and sensitive. Being beautifully staged, it is both strong and nuanced, with touches of Brecht bursting forth to break the sometimes almost unbearable intensity." - Casa Santa Barbara