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January 21, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls to Fordham behind strong defensive effort by the Rams -

January 21, 2017

UMass hockey can’t take advantage of strong start in 6-1 loss to Boston College -

January 21, 2017

High-powered Eagles soar past UMass -

January 21, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

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UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

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UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

Demon barber to possess crowds at the FAC

Ben Skinner

Ben Skinner/Daily Collegian

The UMass Theater Guild’s production of Sweeney Todd opens tonight. The musical features a cast and artistic team composed almost entirely of UMass students.

The plot surrounds the story of Benjamin Barker, a barber who returns to London after more than a decade of exile. After finding the remnants of his former life in ruins, Barker takes up the alias of Sweeney Todd and a mission of murderous revenge with the help of his landlady, Mrs. Lovett.

Despite the murderous plot, Sweeney is no villain, according to Artistic Director Sophie Kaner.

“[The characters] really can’t be boiled down to ‘hero’ or ‘villain’ or ‘damsel in distress,” Kaner said. “The show is about many people, who all struggle to deal with what society expects of them versus what they really want. For that reason, I came to the conclusion that the villain is, in fact, the class system that traps every character.”

Sweeney follows the Theater Guild’s production of The Laramie Project. Each semester, the Guild produces one play and one musical. The musical was selected last semester during a special meeting, in which it competed against several other musicals.

Producer Dana Levy said, “There was an overwhelming majority voting for Sweeney.”

This is not at all surprising, as this production trails the well-received Tim Burton film adaptation by less than two years. However, there are some significant thematic differences between the film and stage versions.

“The stage version is more about the characters, as opposed to the film, which focuses on the action and the horror genre,” said publicity director and cast member Ben Skinner.

That is not to say that the show will be lacking in gore, by any means. Sweeney made theater history as the first popular horror musical, since the modern musical genre developed in the early 1900s. The gore was especially hard-hitting for its first audiences, as it came right after the happy-go-lucky musicals of the 1950s and 1960s.

While there is no existing proof of a London barber by the name of Todd, it is suspected that the original folk tale of Sweeney Todd drew inspiration from a barber in Paris who killed his clients in 1800. He then teamed up with a pastry chef, who actually baked and served the cannibalistic pies for human consumption.

Gore is not the only part of Sweeney Todd. The multi-Tony Award winning show has multiple layers to it.

While the musical has become infamous for its bloody murder sequences, “It is also part romance, part action, part drama, and then there is the horror aspect,” said Ben Sharton, who plays Sweeney Todd. “There really is something for everyone.”

Sweeney Todd first opened on Broadway in 1979, where it won eight Tony Awards. It has since had two revivals on Broadway, and the three productions have earned a combined 10 Tony Awards.

Sweeney Todd will play at the Fine Arts Center today and tomorrow at 8:00 P.M., as well as Saturday at 2:00 P.M. and at 8:00 P.M. Tickets can be purchased at the Fine Arts Center Box Office. Student tickets are $6 each, and adult tickets are $10.

Alissa Mesibov can be reached at amesibov@student.umass.edu.

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