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Glema Mahr Center Presents Razor-Sharp Musical

DSC 1051MADISONVILLE, Ky. (7/19/14)  ― The Glema Mahr Center for the Arts' community theatre production of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” opened July 18.

“Sweeney Todd is Stephen Sondheim's venture into the macabre,” said Brad Downall, executive director at GMCA. “It is a play that is not for everyone, but to me, it's a horrible story beautifully told. What's interesting to me is that he borrowed a lot from Greek tragedy. To me, it's a very poignant piece. It's about a barber who has been wronged. He was sent away for 15 years, and he escapes and vows revenge. He's lost his world. He's lost his wife, he's lost his daughter, and he vows to make it right.”

According to Downall, the musical has mature themes. He recommended it for ages 14 and up.

“It's not like the movie. There's not blood and gore,” Downall said. “It makes for a great evening of theatre.”

People from throughout the region have chose to be a part of the production comprising a cast of around 30 and an orchestra of 18, according to Downall.

“People in the cast and the orchestra are mostly from this area, but there are some from Henderson, Evansville. There's one young man in the cast who lives in Bowling Green, but is staying with his parents in town to do the show. We have a good contingent from Murray. Our oboist is from Owensboro. So, we have people from all over the area,” he said.

Brett Burton, a Madisonville native who plays the role of Sweeney Todd, considers the opportunity to play the character a fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

“I had basically known this musical since back in my college days, about 25 years ago, I'd say,” Burton said. “I've always enjoyed Sondheim musicals, and I knew this would be a challenge.”

Burton believes the most exciting thing about the show is what is being done with the set pieces.

“I don't want to put any surprises out there, any spoilers, but let's just say it really tested my boundaries, my comfort zone” Burton said. “As a person who likes to have total control of where he is, wherever he is, this has definitely been a test for me.”

Burton regards the show as a challenging one musically.

“The most challenging thing is being a tenor trying to sing a bass part,” Burton said. “I'll probably have to take a nap before performance to get some of the lower pitches.”

Burton is a veteran performer. The show represents his seventh performance with Madisonville Community College community theater and his 28th performance overall.

“The oddest thing for me this year is that I'm the elder,” Burton said. “I'm the oldest one in the cast. I never thought that would happen, especially at this age. Maybe if I were 20 years older. This is a very young cast. We've got actors and musicians of all different levels. We've got those who have never done it before. We have those who came because they know the musical and love the musical, and those who saw the book and the music for the first time.”

The next performances are July 19 at 7 p.m. and July 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16.

Ami Clayton
SurfKY News Reporter
SurfKY News Photos/Ami Clayton

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