Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

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Sweeney Todd was produced by the Yale Dramatic Association in 2019 and was directed by Noam Shapiro. The creative team wanted to steer away from the conventional Sweeney Todd, so our production took place in a modern London cafe. This approach allowed us to explore the criminal injustice, class inequity, and hunger that is present in the script. One of the most integral pieces of this for sound was the whistle. In most productions, the music is punctuated with steam whistles screeching. Noam and I decided to switch this out for a shrill tea kettle whistle. The whistle had to be cued musically, pitched, and had to be adjusted to different lengths based on the moment. This unique take on a classic effect brought the sound into the modern day setting.

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The production was a huge challenge for sound. I had to rent and install the equipment for a full sound system for a theater with both an orchestra and a balcony. I created the system by thinking of the areas as separate systems: orchestra, balcony, and under-balcony. These areas each needed to get a mix of the band, vocals, and effects. The system was large and required finessing, but the audience was able to hear the story as I intended. We also had a large orchestra that resided behind the set. With a tall stage box and many parallel surfaces, this was a bit of a nightmare for monitoring. I used as many small monitors as possible to make sure the onstage sound was as contained and targeted as possible. The sound was sourced to the stage, but the main system did most of the work of helping the audience hear.

Director: Noam Shapiro

Scenic Designer: Stephanie Osin Cohen

Lighting Designer: Carolina Ortez

Costume Designer: Annie Le

Sound Designer: Megan Culley

Music Director: Harry Castle

Stage Manager: Isaac Swift

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