Press Release

PlayMakers’ Summer Youth Conservatory to perform ‘Sweeney Todd’

A cast of young student actors will perform Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” July 17-21 at the Center for Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

PlayMakers Repertory Company, the professional theater in residence at UNC, will present the musical thriller as the culmination of its popular, award-winning Summer Youth Conservatory.

Shows will be at 7:30 p.m. July 17-20 and 2 p.m. July 21 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre inside the Center for Dramatic Art located on Country Club Road. Tickets, $15 for adults and $10 for students and children under 18, may be purchased by calling (919) 962-PLAY (7529), online at or at the PlayMakers box office.

“Sweeney Todd” combines music, melodrama, murder – and “the worst pies in London!” in an infamous tale based on Victorian urban legend. Todd, a bloodthirsty barber, seeks revenge on villainous Judge Turpin, with the assistance of an amorous accomplice, daffy pie-maker Mrs. Lovett – reaping dastardly results. Featuring Sondheim’s legendary lyrical wit and musical storytelling, “Sweeney Todd” is entertaining and surprising, filled with comic turns and chilling drama.

The musical was universally praised as an instant masterpiece and became a Broadway hit with the Tony Award-winning 1979 production featuring Angela Lansbury. The New York Times called “Sweeney Todd” a “whopping grisly yarn” and “thumping good theatrical event.” The 2005 Broadway revival with Patti Lupone was also acclaimed and garnered Tony Awards.

It was embraced by even wider audiences with Tim Burton’s 2007 film version starring Johnny Depp and Sacha Baron Cohen.

“Sweeney Todd” will be directed by Tom Quaintance, artistic director of Cape Fear Regional Theatre in Fayetteville, N.C. Quaintance helmed previous Conservatory productions including “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Music Man” and “Oliver!” He also directed PlayMakers Mainstage productions of “The Little Prince” and co-directed “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby” with producing artistic director Joseph Haj.

The Summer Youth Conservatory is a unique educational and performance opportunity for young people that includes working with professional directors, choreographers and musical directors at PlayMakers Repertory Company.

Recognized as “a model program for youth theatre in North Carolina” by the North Carolina Theatre Conference, the Conservatory features three programs: Theatre Intensive and TheatreTech for high school students and Theatre Quest tailored for middle schoolers.

Beginning June 17, high school actors in the Theatre Intensive program will have the opportunity to train, rehearse and perform “Sweeney Todd” in PlayMakers’ professional theater space.

At the same time, participants in TheatreTech begin a program in scenic, costume and lighting production. TheatreTech includes an in-depth series of technical coursework followed by a month-long apprenticeship with PlayMakers’ professional staff.

During Theatre Quest, middle schoolers can participate in a series of week-long classes from June 17 to July 19. This program gives students the opportunity to train with professional artists in a variety of subjects including Principles of Acting, Shakespeare and Stage Combat, Acting for the Camera, Musical Theatre I: Solo Showcase and Musical Theatre II: ShowStoppers. Students can attend one week or more, based on availability.

A limited number of spots are still available for Theatre Quest. Contact PlayMakers education manager Jennifer Wales at (919) 962-2491 or to enroll. Tuition is $300 per week.

Teachers for Theatre Quest are John Dreher (“Cabaret,” “Big River”); Katja Hill (“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” “As You Like It”); David McClutchey (“Nicholas Nickleby,” “Romeo and Juliet”); and Estes Tarver (“Cyrano de Bergerac,” “Tuesdays With Morrie”).

For more information, visit

PlayMakers is based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. For information about PlayMakers’ 2013/2014 season, which begins in September, visit Subscription packages are currently available.

PlayMakers contact: Connie Mahan, (919) 962-5359,

Coverage note: Reporters, photographers or videographers wishing to cover Conservatory sessions and rehearsals may also contact Tim Scales at (919) 636-9809,

Images: Summer Youth Conservatory photos and “Sweeney Todd” poster art are available on request.