WOODS CROSS — A slightly more polite version of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street is coming to Utah.
Legacy Preparatory Academy is the first school in the state to perform the new high school edition of “Sweeney Todd,” which was released a few years ago. The show is coming to Salt Lake’s Rose Wagner Theatre Feb. 13-16 at 7:30 p.m.
“This version keeps all the essentials of what the musical is, but it removes the harder language and one or two of the harder scenes,” said director Rick Kimball. “The show is still 90 to 95 percent the same.”
The musical, featuring lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, follows a man who was falsely imprisoned by a corrupt judge. When he’s finally free and hears of his wife’s suicide, he vows revenge on the judge and the rest of the world. Due to this, he becomes a barber who murders his customers and has his partner bake them into pies.
“We’re trying to mirror what they did in the original London production,” he said.
Though some of the language has been removed, Kimball said that the show’s inherent challenges remain. Most of “Sweeney Todd” is sung, not spoken, and certain scenes require students to perform eight- and nine-part harmonies.
“They’re difficult to do, especially when you’re trying to act at the same time,” said Kimball. “The leads spent all summer just learning the music.”
The acting alone won’t be easy. Though many of the people in the show commit terrible acts, Kimball pushed his students to make their characters more than just villainous caricatures.
“I don’t want them to be stereotypes,” he said. “Especially with everything that’s going on in the world, it’s good to let students analyze what pushes people to those extremes. It’s a good learning experience.”
Cast members, who range in age from 13 to 18, have embraced the opportunity.
“When I first picked the musical, they were a little apprehensive,” he said. “But now they love the challenge.”
Tickets are available online at arttix.org. For more information, visit legacyprep.org.