Attend the tale of ‘Sweeney Todd’ at the High School

May 2, 2023

For Wareham High School senior Sage Kidder, the role of Mrs. Lovett, the deranged pie shop owner in Stephen Sondheim’s macabre musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” is far from a cinch. In fact, the only thing cinched is her waist.

“Gotta get the Victorian silhouette,” student director Peyton Smith said as she tightened Kidder’s corset. “No one wants a waist over 10 inches.” 

The high school’s Viking Theatre Company will perform “Sweeney Todd” on Thursday, May 4, Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6 at 7 p.m., and on Sunday, May 7 at 2 p.m.

The show begins with Sweeney Todd (senior James Pinkham) returning to London after being falsely imprisoned for 15 years. Todd seeks revenge on the corrupt Judge Turpin (junior Akira Montrond), who sentenced him.

“[To play Todd], I like to channel my inner rage and think of things that anger me in the world,” said Pinkham, who typically plays more “vulnerable” characters. “If I had a bad day, it kind of helps.” 

Montrond will take over the role of Sweeney Todd on May 5, requiring her to learn double the lines and double the songs.

“Sweeney, he’s a very hard character to tackle.” she said. “He’s crazy on the inside.” 

Mrs. Lovett, who sells “the worst pies in London,” teams up with Todd. Todd’s razor-sharp reign of terror provides Lovett with a disturbing secret ingredient that makes her pies the toast of London. 

“It’s a very vibrant show, despite the dark themes,” Smith said. 

How does a high school get away with staging a show about murder and cannibalism? Sondheim himself wrote a slightly bowdlerized version appropriate for high schoolers. Smith also reports that the theater students “minimized the amount of onstage violence.” 

She’s not sure whether to use fake blood, ribbons or dramatic lighting to portray the death scenes, but however Todd dispatches his victims, they will go through a trapdoor built into the set. 

“The one thing I want the audience to feel is fear,” Smith said. “I want the emotion, the action, the joyful moments and the scary moments to really translate onstage.”

This is the first musical Kidder has been in, and it’s one known for having some of the most challenging songs in the repertoire — especially if sung while wearing a corset.

Luckily, Kidder has experience wearing corsets, both in costumes and in everyday life. Breathing exercises help too, so she doesn’t “sound like a dying bird onstage.” 

To prepare for the role, Kidder researched “how to play a madwoman.” 

“She’s not crazy in the way that Sweeney’s crazy,” she said. “She’s just loony, and it’s really fun getting to express all of those emotions at once.” 

Tickets to “Sweeney Todd” are $10 for adults, $7 for students and $5 for seniors and children under 10, though theater club advisor Candy Johansen doesn’t expect any kids to be in the audience. 

Tickets can be purchased at or at the door.