Halloween is one of Australia’s most controversial ‘holidays’: should we be letting our kids out for the glorified blood-covered Book Week parade on our footpaths, or resist caving in to American commercialisation?
Whatever your view, there is no doubt the end of October is the spookiest time of year – and in 2019, Full Throttle Theatre Company will be making the most of the haunting hour, staging Christopher Bond’s play Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Director Sonia Zabala said visions for the play began filling her mind as soon as it was suggested to her.
“Full Throttle’s theme for each of its plays this year is ‘Before they were musicals.’ Todd [Barty] pitched a few plays to me but as soon as he said Sweeney Todd this vision of a live action graphic novel jumped into my brain,” Sonia said.
To bring this graphic novel to life, Sonia is collaborating with a number of Townsville creatives, all skilled in their own fields.
“I kept talking about my vision for Sweeney and luckily people listened and either jumped on board or introduced me to people who are also excited about the concept. I want to give it a graphic novel feel and we’ll be incorporating projection of comic book style drawings to bring that to life.
“For those who do know of the stage adaptation of Sweeney Todd they will probably be expecting the musical – but there is no breaking into song and dance in this one. There are moments of tragedy because at its heart, it’s a story of revenge, horror and loss.”
Sonia said the play was the first to dive into Sweeney’s back-story.
“The movie and musical are both actually based on this play – it was the first to give Sweeney a back-story that made him more than just a ruthless killer and robber.”
Bringing Sweeney’s titular role to life can be a daunting task, however Sonia said her Sweeney was everything audiences would be expecting and more.
“We’re so lucky to have Luke Reynolds (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) who is so experienced and talented as our Sweeney. Luke brings the intensity and nuances needed to bring Sweeney to life – audiences will be afraid of him and still feel sympathy for him.”
As well as an experienced and emotive cast of characters on stage, Sonia has assembled an incredible team of creatives behind the scenes who will each do their part to send Sweeney Todd to the next level.
Georgia O’Gorman – Key Makeup Artist
“This will be my first time working with Sonia! I’ve seen how much drive and passion she has for Townsville theatre and it will be my pleasure to bring her vision to life.
“What excites me the most about creating looks for this show will be the special effects and the dark makeup which will form a big staple of the show. There are two contrasting sides to my own creativity: dark and scary, and sparkly and fabulous!
“Sweeney Todd is definitely not for the faint-hearted. It will be a quite moody but heartfelt show with a lot of feeling which will set it aside from other recent shows that have been performed in Townsville. It will have quite similar vibes to one of the first theatre shows I ever worked on with Theatre iNQ in 2017, Frankenstein.”
Dane Hallam – Multimedia Graphic Artist
“A photographer friend, Paul Freeman, heard Sonia was looking for a comic-style artist which is my background, so I jumped at the chance to come on board. I’ve never worked with Sonia before, but I’m now looking forward to any future projects I can join.
“What excites me most about this show? Who doesn’t love a little blood, gore and pies?! Audiences should expect their heart rate to rise and mouth to start watering. This is my first time working on a play after years of working with wrestlers – and if anything, this play might just be a little more crazy!
Damien Jackson – Set Designer
“I haven’t worked with Sonia before, but I’ve seen her work, so I didn’t have to think twice about joining the team for Sweeney Todd.
“The most exciting thing about this play for me is the different approach Sonia has incorporated into it. It will give me a chance to do a few things outside the traditional Sweeney set. The scenes will be changed with subtle things and big things all mixed together – and as we know, it’s a classic thriller. Audiences can expect a talented cast bringing the characters to life with their own interpretations.
Lachlan Knibb – Sound Designer
“Sonia came to a school play I worked on the sound design for. She asked me if I was interested in getting involved with Sweeney, and her pitch was too good to pass up. So here we are!
“Sweeney is really going to push my abilities as an artist and technician.
“We’ve got some big ideas that I think we’ll pull off, but it’s going to take some lateral thinking. The wonderfully weird group of creatives that are working on it, and the clarity of Sonia’s vision in what she wants to achieve for this show will really set it apart from anything else. I think it’s going to be very immersive.
Without giving too much away, this play won’t be the Sweeney Todd you know. Clear your schedule on Halloween!
Catch Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Old Courthouse Theatre from 30 October – 10 November.