Eighth graders sing their guts out

Ten Middle School (MS) students brought a killer to life on the evening of May 24, when they performed Sweeney Todd for the annual eighth-grade musical.

The plot follows Sweeney Todd, played by Jack Haining ’22, who returns to his home in Victorian-era London in order to enact revenge on the judge who falsely accused him of a crime 15 years earlier. 

After Sweeney Todd cut the throat of his professional rival, Pirelli, and blood trickled down his neck and onto his white button-up shirt, the audience of parents, teachers, siblings, and friends crowded into the Big Room at the MS gasped in horror. 

MS Drama Teacher Christa Crewdson said she picked Sweeney Todd because Stephen Sondheim, the composer of the musical, is a genius whose work she wanted her students to experience.

“It was a complex show with lots of musical and technical aspects and lots of stage blood!” Ms. Crewdson said, explaining that while the lights were off between scenes, Jack poured stage blood on the neck of Ty Harding ’22, who played Pirelli. 

From February to the end of May, the cast met four times a week to practice, developing a group dynamic that their director applauded.

“They cheered on their fellow cast members when they mastered a tough song,” Ms. Crewdson said. “They had words of encouragement for one another throughout the rehearsal process.”  

Luc Boesch Powers ’22, who played the judge, said that preparing for the musical was not easy. 

“When we received our scripts, the musical was two-and-a-half hours long,” he said. “We had to cut a number of scenes and songs.”

On the afternoon before the performance, the students put on half of the two-hour play to MS students and faculty.

Audience member of the half-show Alicia Maginn ’22 praised both the cast and the crew.

“The actors did a great job portraying their characters and conveying emotion through their lines,” she said. “The set managers did an amazing job with staying on top of their cues and keeping the show very well organized.”

On the night of the performance, the stage was decorated with hand-painted backdrops of buildings with gray skies and other props, such as a fireplace and chair. The first act opened with “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” and featured 14 more songs. The second act featured seven.  

Nick Haining P’19, P’22 celebrated the MS actors for taking on a really complicated musical and turning out a fantastic performance. 

“It was a gripping story, vividly brought to life in song and word,” he said. “I’m really proud of them.” 

“So much of [their success] is due to the amazing guidance and direction from Ms. Crewdson and [MS Music Teacher Katherine] Gellar,” he added. 

Kate Constan ’22, who played Ms. Lovett and was also the actors’ makeup artist, said she felt the performance was a success. 

“All the responsibilities were difficult to juggle,” she said, “but I was glad we got it done, and I was glad it went well.” 

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