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Musical features dark humor

A barber whose shaves are too close for comfort and a baker whose pies are filled with mystery meat are the focus of Waupaca’s upcoming musical thriller.

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” will open at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 22, at Waupaca High School.

Produced by the Waupaca Community Theatre, the Stephen Soundheim musical will also be on stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23; and at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, July 28-30. A matinee is slated for 2 p.m. Sunday, July 24.

Set in 19th-century London, “Sweeney Todd” tells the story of a barber who seeks bloody revenge against a lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his wife. Soon, Todd is dispatching nearly all of his customers, and meat pies become a popular item at the local pastry shop.

Members of the local cast include Adam Qutaishat as Sweeney Todd and Annie Hughes as Mrs. Lovett, the pie maker.

Qutaishat is a music major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point who is currently performing in his third production by the Waupaca Community Theatre. He played Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast” in 2009 and Ito in “Mame” in 2010.

“I find it challenging to add nuance to the role,” Qutaishat said. “I like the subtle details of the character.”

Qutaishat said he also appreciates that the music in “Sweeney Todd” is more operatic.

Hughes describes her character, Mrs. Lovett, as the one truly evil character in the play.

“She is a total sociopath,” Hughes said. “She is the instigator behind everything that happens.”

Hughes comes to the Waupaca stage from New York City, where she performed at Eighty Eights, The Players Club, Russian Tea Room and off Broadway at Cherry Lane Theater and Promenade Theater.

Hughes previously performed the role of Mrs. Lovett for the Opera Roanoke in Virginia.

Jared Martin plays Anthony Hope, Emily Billington is the Beggar Woman, Justin Spenner is Judge Turpin, Berray Billington is The Beadle, Heather Eikenbary is Johanna, Nate Hawlish plays Tobias Raff, John Hammond is Pirelli and Jerald Hurst plays Jonas Fogg.

Tickets are $12 for general admission, and are available at the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, 221 S. Main St., or at the window one hour prior to the show.

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