Behind the Scenes - Sweeney Todd

by Sammy Salsa
12 September, 2016

New Zealand has a long history and love for the Opera, even generating some world-renowned Opera singers such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the incredible Sole Mio trio. So it’s no surprise that when an international opera production comes to town the NZ opera community and its followers alike get excited!

The latest production to hit The Civic is Sweeney Todd. A “musical thriller” set in the Victorian era about a deranged barber who learns that his loved ones have been wrongfully mistreated by Judge Turpin, the same judge who convicted him on trump charges. On his return back to London from being incarcerated, Barker then sets up a barbershop with the town pie maker, Mrs Lovett. Angry and wanting redemption, Barker uses his position as a barber to slice the throat of those that did him wrong, in this case Judge Turpin and his associates. The twist? His victims become the latest ingredient for Mrs Lovetts pies. 

With any big stage production a key element is the costuming - and a fantastical musical like Sweeney Todd is no exception. I was lucky enough to go on a behind the scenes tour of the costume department and get the inside scoop on how all the looks for Sweeney Todd came together.

Cue Roger Kirk. Best known for his Tony award-winning work on “The King and I” he's the Director of Costuming for Sweeney Todd and his work is impeccable. During my tour I quickly got the sense that Kirk is a major player in the stage musicals industry. His eye is tailored to each character, to the point where a colleague of his mentioned to me “no one can dress a woman quite like Roger” to which I asked – is that right? – “it's about showing off the best bits of the female figure, I see the things that sometimes she wouldn’t even notice, it's about accentuating what that character is all about”. My job is to tell the story through clothing so that the person sitting right at the back of the theatre walks away with the same reaction to the production as the person sitting in the front row.”

Don't miss Sweeney Todd when it plays at The Civic from the 17th to 24th of September, with costumes created by a genius designer, a fantastic score and incredible acting this will be a feast for the eyes and ears. 

Click here to buy tickets