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RACINE — The classical musical thriller, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” will spring to life this week at the Racine Theatre Guild.

Beginning with its opening performance on Friday night at 7:30 p.m., the production, under the direction of Doug Instenes is set to run through Sunday, June 4.

Sweeney Todd
Sweeney Todd (Davdison Kane) and Mrs. Lovett (Danielle Katers) team up to transform the worst pies in London. – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

Instenes is excited to get the show underway.

“I have always loved the play version of ‘Sweeney Todd,’” he said in an email interview. “It’s masterful storytelling. What I really love is how theatrical it is, and the role the ensemble plays in the production.

Attend the tale: storytelling genius

“The play starts out telling the audience to, ‘attend the tale of Sweeney Todd.’ We are telling you a story. The ensemble comes and goes, playing many parts and commenting on the action. That is why I wasn’t all that impressed with the movie because they cut the ensemble.”

Those in attendance are encouraged to “attend the tale of a barber wrongly convicted and out for vengeance” against the corrupt judge who sent him to prison and tore his family apart, according to a press release.

The heart-pounding musical by the late Stephen Sondheim pulsates as Sweeney Todd wields his weapons of choice: a razor and a barber chair.

Sweeney Todd
The Beggar Woman (Rebecca Myers) askes Anthony (Thomas Otto Minkowski) for alms despite Sweeney Todd’s (Davidson Kane) disgust. – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

His path toward retribution leads him to Mrs. Lovett’s meat pie shop, where they plot to combine his thirst for blood and her need for a secret ingredient.

Sweeney Todd
Mrs. Lovett (Danielle Katers) dusts off an old pie to serve to a customer. – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

Featuring unforgettable songs, including “The Worst Pies in London,” “Johanna,” Pretty Women” and “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” revenge has never tasted like this.

With music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler from an adaption by Christopher Bond, the adult material may not be suitable for young patrons.

The production’s biggest challenge

The music piece to the production has been the biggest challenge, said Instenes, who is directing “Sweeney Todd” for the first time.

“Sondheim is extremely complicated, and I was so lucky to have such talented musicians in the cast,” he said. “They really have done an impressive job. I think this show is a bucket list for many theatre/music students and professionals. How many times do you get to do a musical about killing people and baking them into meat pies? The show is full of beautiful and powerful songs.”

The cast and crew

Sweeney Todd
Mrs. Lovett (Danielle Katers) throws open the doors of her pie shop for all of London to get a taste. – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

The cast includes Davidson Kane as Sweeney Todd, who teams up with Mrs. Lovett (Danielle Katers) for Sweeney’s delicious revenge against Judge Turpin (Tom Sturino). Other characters include Anthony (Thomas Otto Minkowski), who falls in love with Johanna (Tabetha Steege); rival barber Adolfo Pirelli (Matthew Matysik) and his tortured apprentice Tobias (Christopher Johnston); Judge Turpin’s lackey Beadle (Joseph Kramer); the crazed Beggar Woman (Rebecca Myers); and asylum owner Fogg (Paul Weir).

The ensemble features Bob Benson, Rebekah Bryan, Isabella Bullock, Samantha Pinchard, Elissa Richardson, Brian Schalk, Kyle Simonsen, Marcus Sorenson, Taylor Anne Stefanski, Garrett Stibb, Katy Walker, Rebecca Weaver, Jonathan Wright, and Raquel Wright.

Directing the music is Greg Berg, while choreography is led by Mary Leigh Sturino.

Sweeney Todd
Fogg’s Asylum is filled with inmates trapped in their own minds. Left to Right Front: Marcus Sorenson, Garrett Stibb, Taylor Anne Stefanski, Rebecca Weaver, Samantha Pinchard, and Katy Walker. Back: Rebekah Bryan, Kyle Simonsen, Isabella Bullock, Elissa Richardson, Brian Schalk, Raquel Wright, Jonathan Wright, and Bob Benson. – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

Supporting the cast and directors are a crew of costumers, set builders, technicians and many other production members.

“It doesn’t matter how wonderful the cast is, if you don’t have a talented crew,” Instenes said. “The sets, props, costumes, lights, and most important, the sound, have to be extremely well done to help tell this story and support the actors. I am so lucky to have surrounded myself with such a dedicated and talented cast and crew.”

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Mrs. Lovett (Danielle Katers) worries about how to take care of The Beadle (Joseph Kramer). – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

‘Sweeney Todd’ performance details

Sponsored by Blackstone Realty Services, “Sweeney Todd” performances will take place Fridays and Saturdays through June 4 at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. There also will be 2 p.m. shows Saturdays, May 27 and June 3.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (62 and older), and $15 for students (21 and younger). Tickets at a discounted rate will be available for “value night” performances on Sunday, May 28, and Thursday, June 1, at 7 p.m. Further savings will be offered for groups of 12 or more.

During the Friday, June 2, 7:30 p.m. show, American Sign Language interpretation will be provided by students from UW-Milwaukee.

Tickets can be purchased from the Racine Theatre Guild at 262-633-4218, online at, or by stopping at the Box Office on weekdays from noon to 6 p.m. and 90 minutes prior to each performance.

Sweeney Todd
Anthony (Thomas Otto Minkowski) and Johanna (Tabetha Steege) find love amongst the darkness that surrounds them. – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

“I’m so excited to bring this show to life at the Theatre Guild,” Instenes said. “We are having a blast in rehearsal. While we offer a wide range of programming and productions, we don’t often do this type of dark musical. It is not something you see every day at the RTG, so I encourage people to come.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct an error in the performance dates.

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