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Virginia Arts Festival announces casting for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Winner of eight Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Original Score, Sweeney Todd has thrilled audiences since its 1979 premiere. 

Virginia Arts Festival will present Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical Sweeney Todd in an orchestral performance featuring Broadway soloists as part of the Connie & Marc Jacobson Opening Night of its Spring 2024 season.

One of Sondheim’s most ingenious and acclaimed musicals, Sweeney Todd tells the tale of a man maddened by revenge; under the guise of a barber, he slits the throats of his victims with a straight razor and delivers their corpses to his female accomplice, who bakes them into pies. Winner of eight Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Original Score, Sweeney Todd has thrilled audiences since its 1979 premiere. 

The Broadway, film and television stars who have taken on the iconic roles of this unforgettable musical include Angela Lansbury, Kelsey Grammer, Christine Baranski, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Emma Thompson, Len Cariou, and most recently Josh Groban. 

In this rousing orchestra and chorus performance led by renowned Broadway music director Rob Fisher (who serves as Virginia Arts Festival’s Goode Family Artistic Advisor for Musical Theater and American Songbook), a company of gifted Broadway and Opera singers joins the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a performance that puts Sondheim’s unforgettable score front and center. Virginia Stage Company’s Producing Artistic Director Tom Quaintance joins as stage director. 

The role of the Demon Barber will be sung by baritone Rod Gilfry, renowned for his voice as well as his portrayals of compelling characters in opera including Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire, the Father in Eurydice, and Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life. In 2023, Mr. Gilfry performed in the Metropolitan Opera performances of Dead Man Walking. 

Playing the Demon Barber’s accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, will be Drama Desk and Obie Award-winning actress Donna Lynne Champlin, whose numerous stage credits (The Dead, Billy Elliott) are accompanied 

by film and television appearances including Crazy Ex, Feel The Beat Birdman, By Jeeves, The Good Wife, and Law and Order. 

Tobias, the young apprentice barber who falls into Todd’s world, will be sung by Matt Leisy, whose stage appearances have included The Light in the Piazza (New York City Center Encores) and Carousel (Lincoln Center) and touring roles in The Phantom of the Opera and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder. 

Todd’s daughter Johanna will be sung by an area favorite: Amy Owens has sung with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (Carmina Burana) and the Virginia Opera (Pirates of Penzance). Her performances at the Santa Fe Opera, Dallas Opera and more have won acclaim for her “high-flying vocals.” 

Tenor John Riesen will perform the role of Johanna’s lover Anthony. He has performed with Knoxville Opera, Opera Las Vegas, Opera Roanoke and numerous orchestras including the Dallas and Phoenix Symphony Orchestras. Mr. Riesen was named a semifinalist on NBC’s America’s Got Talent. 

Tony Award-winning actor Chuck Cooper will play the object of Todd’s revenge, Judge Turpin. Cooper has been seen on Broadway in The Life, Caroline or Change, Chicago and more; and on television in The Good Wife, House of Cards and Nurse Jackie, among many others. 

Todd’s nemesis The Beadle will be played by storyteller Justin Barnette, whose stage roles have included Edna Turnblad in the national tour of Hairspray, Ed Peterson in Fiorello! at New York City Center Encores and Cogsworth in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, as well as TV appearances on Broad City, Smash and The Apprentice. 

Cree Carrico will play the Beggar Woman. Carrico’s previous musical theater and opera roles have included Norina in Don Pasquale, Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Musetta in La Boheme. 

Todd’s would-be blackmailer, the barber Pirelli, will be played by Metropolitan Opera tenor Richard Troxell, whose wide-ranging performances have included Pinkerton in Martin Scorcese’s Madama Butterfly and Don Jose in Carmen at the Sydney Opera House. 

A special appearance will be made by seven-year-old local actor Stormie Treviño, who in 2022, performed the role of Gretl in the Virginia Opera and Virginia Arts Festival’s The Sound of Music. She has performed in several professional productions at Virginia Musical Theatre and Virginia Stage Company. 

The company features 70 members of the Virginia Symphony Chorus with a crowd of singers that includes: 

New York-based performers: Andrea Jones-Sojola, soprano; Christine DiGiallonardo; mezzo; David Purdy, tenor; Timothy McDevitt, baritone, and Adam Bashian, bass. 

Local performers: Ashlyn Gelman, soprano; Adriane Kerr, mezzo; Scott Crissman, tenor; JP Paul, tenor; Derrell Gunn, baritone; and Scott Wichmann, baritone. 


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