GWU Department of Theatre Arts Presents ‘Sweeney Todd,’ a Musical Thriller

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Revenge Tale Features Plot Twists and Intrigue

A poster featuring a red and white barbershop pole with details of GWU's musical, Sweeney ToddBOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The Gardner-Webb University Department of Theatre Arts presents “Sweeney Todd” Feb. 21-24 in Dover Theatre inside the Lutz-Yelton Convocation Center. The musical thriller is directed by Dr. Chris Nelson, assistant professor of theatre and department chair, and Dr. Stafford Turner, associate professor of music. The GWU Orchestra, directed by professor of music Dr. Patricia Sparti, will provide accompaniment.

A 1979 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical, “Sweeney Todd” features music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and is based on the 1973 play “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street” by Christopher Bond.

“If you like spectacle—costumes, lights, sets, music, thrilling plot twists and intrigue, for instance—you’ll hopefully like Sweeney Todd,” assessed Nelson. “It’s an intense revenge tale with a very interesting mix of what you’d expect in a musical and a few things you might not expect.”

The story involves Sweeney Todd, whose real name is Benjamin Barker. He was wrongfully sentenced to life imprisonment by the corrupt Judge Turpin. Barker uses his alias to resume work in his barber shop, which is located above Mrs. Lovett’s struggling pie shop. After swearing vengeance against the judge that tore his family apart, Todd and Lovett hatch a unique plan that helps them both, but leads them down a dangerous path.

Nelson described this musical as the most ambitious production he has staged since he’s been at Gardner-Webb. “It’s always a lot of work doing any production, but in a musical, you usually have bigger sets, more costumes and props, more rehearsals to incorporate music, and dance, if there is any,” he observed. “Musicals are often longer than most plays and so there’s more material. You have to try to balance all these things so there’s enough time to work on all of it. I urge folks to come and support our students and our program.”

Show times are Feb. 21-23 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 24 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students, senior citizens and GWU faculty and staff, and free for GWU students with ID and children under 12 years. For more information, please contact Andy Rich at 704-406-2777 or email

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 48 hours prior to the event. Please call 704-406-2155 or email with your request.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university that prepares students to become critical thinkers, effective leaders and compassionate servants. Emphasizing a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics, Gardner-Webb is a place where Christian character meets global engagement. Ignite your future at