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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette Theatre presents: ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’

The musical opened on April 5.
Photo by Katie Craig
Michael Mingus and Alex Merkel play Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett, respectively.

The final production of the 100-year celebration of the Marquette Theatre opened April 5. “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” the one musical done during the 2023-2024 season, by Stephen Sondheim follows the story of a Victorian-era barber who returns home to London and murders his clients.

Director of “Sweeney Todd,” and associate professor in Theater Arts department, Jamie Cheatham, said they plan which plays and musicals to do over four years, so that students get exposed to a number of shows.

“We have one musical every season, and we shift from large musicals, to small, to medium sized musicals each year,” Cheatham said. “This year, we felt we were ready for a large musical and we feel that we have a very strong cast, especially in terms of the voices.” 

A committee, which Cheatham said is made up of mostly faculty along with one senior student representative, determines the shows for the year.

Alex Merkel, who plays Mrs. Lovett, and is a senior in the College of Business Administration, said she feels this is one of the biggest productions Marquette has done in her four years here. 

“The spectacle of the lights, the costumes, the sound, the set and everything with special effects, I think it is just the biggest production,” Merkel said. “It is so cool to be a part of it and be in the world on stage with this huge set around you, along with such a fun, big cast.”

Casting for this performance happened prior to winter break; however, the announcement of the productions put on during the season was announced last fall.

Merkel said that preparing for this role, she had to learn two songs and a monologue. 

“One of the songs had to be a [Stephen] Sondheim song, because he has a very specific way that he writes, it’s very difficult. I found my songs during the summer, since I always knew the role I wanted,” Merkel said. 

The second week the cast got back from winter break, Merkel said they began practice right away. 

“We started by just sitting in chairs and learning the songs for two to three weeks,” Merkel said. “After that, it was putting all the scenes on their feet. We did a lot of blocking rehearsals of just mapping out the general shape of the scenes, not necessarily focusing on the acting of it.”

Michael Mingus, a sophomore in the College of Communication who plays Sweeney Todd, said his dream was to be able to play Sweeney Todd, and initially he was shocked he even received the role.

“It’s one of the most iconic shows of all time. Sondheim is one of the most legendary composers, and it is so intelligently written,” Mingus said. “This is one of my dreams. Playing this iconic character at how young I am shocked me initially. I was like ‘Oh, okay, I’m playing this guy so early in my career.’ But it’s just so special.” 

Because he was a first-year last year, Mingus said he wasn’t able to audition for the musical. He said he knew he had to work hard because he had done musical theater all throughout high school and wanted to continue that. 

“I really started early. When they picked the show I kind of started going, ‘Okay, this is the show, what can I do with this?’ I worked with my vocal coach during the summer with the songs and stuff. I had pretty much everything picked out maybe two months before the audition, like ready to go. I just wanted it,” Mingus said. 

The show will continue to run April 11-13 at 7:30 p.m. at Helfaer Theatre. Ticket prices range from $12-20, with a student discount price of $6 on April 11. Tickets can be bought at the Marquette Theatre website.

“I think people should see it, because not only is it an iconic story, it’s also extremely socially relevant for the time that we’re in right now,” Mingus said. “So not only that, but also it’s just the spectacle of it, and you feel it. With the lights and everything, it’s a huge production. The show was so well casted, everyone knocks it out of the park, every single time.”

This story was written by Sophie Goldstein. She can be reached [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Sophie Goldstein
Sophie Goldstein, Executive Arts & Entertainment Editor
Sophie Goldstein is a sophomore from Glenview, Illinois studying journalism and is the Executive Arts and Entertainment Editor of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Prior to this position, she served as the Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Indiana Daily Student at Indiana University. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys spending time with friends, watching reality television and playing with her dog. She is excited to begin her journey at the Wire, while exploring the stories everyone has to share at Marquette.
Katie Craig
Katie Craig, Staff Photographer
Katie is a Staff Photographer at the Wire. She is a first-year from Lakeville, MN studying digital media and minoring in advertising. In her free time, Katie enjoys photography and hanging out with her friends. This year Katie is looking forward to getting to know more people and improving her photography skills.

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