Sweeney Todd: A Prog Metal Introspective Interview with the Women Behind the Show

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd, who served a prog and a metal god! With the blessing of the mastermind himself, The Landless Theatre Company has taken Stephen Sondheim’s musical thriller to new heights with their prog metal rendition of the notoriously grim show. Reinventing the classic orchestrations with a self-proclaimed ‘nerd metal’ vibe, the company has created a hybrid performance that lives up to their slogan— “theatre for the theatre-challenged.” This production has caused quite the stir around the Washington DC Theatre scene— being the first of its kind as well as providing a strong voice for female directors in both the theatrical ring as well as the metal scene.

TheatreBloom has taken a moment to sit down with Director Melissa Baughman, and female leading performers Irene Jericho, Nina Osegueda, and Angeleaza Anderson to discuss what it has been like to bear the torch for women in this hybrid industry. Our story begins as they always do, with introductions, but then the meatier bits will follow, all neatly wrapped up in this delicious pie of an interview.

The Ladies who Landless (top left moving clockwise- Director Melissa Baughman. and actors Irene Jericho, Angeleaza Anderson, and Nina Osegueda
The Ladies who Landless (top left moving clockwise- Director Melissa Baughman. and actors Irene Jericho, Angeleaza Anderson, and Nina Osegueda

Let’s have a round-robin of introductions where you four fantastic ladies tell the readers of TheatreBloom who you are and how they might know you or where they might recognize you from in the area.

Angeleaza Anderson: My name is Angeleaza Anderson and I play Johanna in Sweeney Todd. Things people would have seen me in? Well, I understudied for Three Little Birds at Adventure Theatre, and I did work with Big Nate: The Musical, also at Adventure Theatre. I was in Coriolanus at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival, as well as a show called Cross the Line, also at Capital Fringe Festival this year.

Nina Osegueda: I’m Nina Osegueda, I’m Mrs. Lovett, and I’m also the lead singer of A Sound of Thunder, which is a metal band in the area.

Irene Jericho: My name is Irene Jericho and I play the Beggar Woman/Lucy in Sweeney Todd. I also front a band called Cassandra Syndrome and we are also in the local area. I appeared in Landless Theatre Company’s production of Frankenstein last year.

Melissa Baughman: I’m Melissa Baughman, I’m the Director of Sweeney Todd. Things people might have seen of my work? I’ve done Evil Dead: The Musical, I directed Frankenstein the Prog Metal Opera last year…the list goes on. If there’s something dead or zombies involved, I’m there.

What is it like to be at the epicenter of this new concept that seems to be taking Washington DC by storm, this notion of metal and theatre blending together in this hybrid form of “prog metal opera” that Landless Theatre Company has now had two productions focused around. Can you tell us what being a part of spearheading this new theatrical format has been like for you?

Melissa: I’ll start by saying that most people don’t even realize that women like metal. When people hear that I like metal they always say “wait, what?” or they say something stupid like, “You must like Poison.” And I just say “Fuck you,” because it makes me so mad. It’s ridiculous. They have no idea that women are even interested in this. So immediately their first reaction is to blow you off. But then you make yourself heard so then they have to listen. After a while they’re fascinated because they realize that it’s a thing. But for me this is just my life. This is not a new thing, I’ve always loved metal and theatre. But now that people are becoming aware of it they are trying to understand that, at least on my end as a director.

Irene: It’s super fun because the field is currently wide open in this area, which I think has given Landless Theatre Company a lot of freedom. Melissa gives us a lot of leeway in terms of how we express ourselves, what we represent, and what the shows can become. It’s this incredible amalgamation of talent and determination. It’s just this amazing group of people that Melissa sort of just gives electrical instruments to and says “go forth and make magic!” and it’s amazing. We end up with this incredible project that is very new for the region and a lot of fun and very free.

Nina: I concur.

Angeleaza: Now I don’t really have a metal background, I’m more of the musical theatre—

Irene: We will fix her.

Angeleaza: Haha! I am getting more involved with knowing stuff about metal as a musical genre just from being involved. The idea and experience has just been really cool. When I was first contacted about the show I had heard of Prog Metal before, and I had listened to some Prog Metal music but I still thought “what exactly am I auditioning for?” I had all these questions, how should I sing this? Is there a certain way that it needs to be sung in order to sound more like Prog Metal and less like musical theatre? I had no idea. But it sounded cool. The “Green Finch and Linnet Bird” midi file that I got was not like any rendition of that song I had ever heard before, so that was interesting, just listening to it to get my head around it for auditions. When I got the rest of the score and the other arrangements, I think I was sold. My first rehearsal with the band I definitely cried because the music was just so amazing. I’m a music major so my musical theory nerd was freaking out.

Angeleaza brings up a good point, having a vague familiarity with what exactly Prog Metal is. For me personally, my working definition of it has always been “that thing that Landless Theatre Company does when they put on a big new exciting musical”. Can you ladies give us a more fluid and useful working definition of what exactly Prog Metal is and how it fits into these concept musicals that are growing from within Landless? And what does it mean to you guys to be putting it out there as a new brand of musical theatre?

Melissa: My definition of Prog Metal is that it is technical metal that borrows from a lot of different genres, blending it all together and making it into this weird version of metal. I like to think of it as a “thinking man’s” metal. It’s very complex and very serious. You don’t just casually listen to Prog Metal, it absorbs your brain as you listen to it. If you put on Opeth, you don’t casually listen to it, you are drawn into that album for the next hour. It’s very intense. But it does borrow from a lot of different genres.

Nina: I would call it nerd metal. It’s definitely nerd metal. My bass player and my drummer, from A Sound of Thunder, are really into Prog Metal. Whenever we go on tour and the drummer and the bass player are together, me and my guitarist have this running joke about how the two of them are giggling together like school girls about time signature changes in the music. They get geeked out over that sort of stuff and it’s funny. My band is actually an “everything” band, but I think we’re mostly a Prog-Power Metal band. Now Power Metal is basically defined as lots of dragons and wizards, and lots of guitar solos. Like Dragonforce, but with a girl. We’re also a bit like Judas Priest so we do a lot of traditional stuff too. But then the prog stuff happens with they start throwing in those weird time changes where they go from a 3/4 to a 4/5 or whatever it is they are doing, sometimes I don’t even know what the hell is going on.

Irene Jericho as The Beggar Woman in Landless Theatre Company's production of Sweeney Todd the Prog Metal Opera
Irene Jericho as The Beggar Woman in Landless Theatre Company’s production of Sweeney Todd the Prog Metal Opera Brandon Penick Photography
Irene: My band is also not a Prog Metal band. We’re actually an operatic or symphonic metal band so we come at things from a slightly classical point of view. It’s another form of nerd metal. That’s another one of the great things about these varying forms of metal, like prog, like symphonic metal, they are similar in bonding over that “nerd” notion. One of the reasons I think Nina and I are friends is because we both helm these bands filled with people who look cool but are not in any way, shape, or form.

Angeleaza: I don’t have a band.

Nina: She might when this is done.

Angeleaza: I’m a theory nerd, though so I can totally relate.

Irene: I think for both Cassandra Syndrome and A Sound of Thunder, both bands use elements of Prog Metal, so for Nina and I this is a good fit and nothing that is terrifying.

What was the draw to make Sweeney Todd be the next Prog Metal undertaking for Landless?

Irene: What were you thinking?

Melissa: Well, we have to actually backtrack a bit here to me in sixth grade. My first Broadway show that I ever saw Sondheim’s Into the Woods, and I sat there watching it and decided I was going to do theatre for the rest of my life. That same year I discovered metal and I thought that theatre and metal would be great together. I would sit there and write these really terrible nerdy metal operas starring me and King Diamond. I have a version of Phantom of the Opera

Nina: What? Oh. My. God!!! I didn’t know you loved King Diamond!!! You’re my new best friend!!!

Melissa: I’m actually dragging Andy, my husband who plays Sweeney in this show, to his next show.

Nina: I’m going to that too!!! I’m going in full face makeup!

Melissa: Sorry, we were having a bonding nerd-metal moment. Where was I? King Diamond and metal in theatre. So back to Stephen Sondheim and metal in the theatre…working with Landless gave me the freedom to do the sort of theatre I want to do. I’m equity trained. I was going the equity route in theatre. Then I broke free. I started seeing this opening for rock theatre, and so I pushed it into metal theatre. We’ve been wanting to do Sweeney for so freakin’ long. We had actually planned on doing a symphonic metal version of it years ago but we couldn’t figure out how to do it.

After Frankenstein, everything came into place. So Andy said “I’m just going to write to him and see what happens.” I figured he was going to say no. Then he said “yes” and that’s how that came about. We just wanted to do a metal Sweeney Todd. And look what we’re doing.

Nina: When are we doing to do Abigail the musical?

Melissa: I’m going to pitch it to King Diamond—

Nina: Oh my God!!! Can we? Can we please?? Please??? It’s perfect for album number one as the first act and album number two as the second act—

Johanna (l- Angeleaza Anderson) and Anthony (r- Bobby Libby)
Johanna (l- Angeleaza Anderson) and Anthony (r- Bobby Libby) Brandon Penick Photography
Angeleaza: I had something…since I have no idea what they are nerding out about right now, haha. But coming into this project, I had never actually seen Sweeney Todd.

Are you being serious? How do you have such an extensive musical theatre background but have never seen one of Sondheim’s greatest works?

Nina: I had actually never seen it either— well I saw the movie. But I hated the movie. I actually really hated that movie. It was horrible.

Angeleaza: I watched half of the movie the night before my first rehearsal. As a legit soprano I had never actually sung “Green Finch” before. It’s probably one of the few legit songs that was not in my book. It’s funny, because as a song I’m not all that fond of it, but as a Prog Metal song I really like it. Learning all of this, I feel like I don’t want to ever go back to normal singing again.

Melissa, you created all the musical orchestrations to turn this into a Prog Metal Opera?

Melissa: Oh, no, no no. We have our arrangers called The Fleet Street Collective. It is comprised of the band and a few other people. There’s like seven or eight arrangers in total including Andy. They are the masterminds of this project. They are the unsung heroes of this. They are geniuses. Andy would talk to me about what he wanted to do with the music, and I would help guide and shape it. I would articulate my vision, they would take it and give me something that was more amazing than I could ever imagine. I did what a Director is supposed to do, I gave my direction and let their creative amazing minds do the rest. They did all the work. And they are all fucking geniuses, I can’t say that enough.

Angeleaza: They are creating something really brilliant here. I think it’s so interesting that we have this amazing Prog Metal thing going on right now while Signature is also doing a Sondheim show— they’re doing Sunday in the Park with George, and you see all these articles surfacing about the two productions and they keep saying “two theatres doing Sondheim” but the two shows could not be more different because we are doing something crazy exciting and new with Sweeney.

Nina: Someone should see if there is Prog Metal potential for Sunday.

Irene: Sunday in the Prog. Next project.

Angeleaza: It’s just so exciting to be a part of something new, this isn’t Oklahoma for the 15th time and it’s taking something that was already awesome and making it incredible and bringing a new medium to theatre as well as to theatergoers.

When everyone turned up to auditions did you have ideas in mind of who you wanted to be? What was the process was like for you?

Nina: Oh! Me! Me! Funny story…I went to a performing arts high school and I was a theatre major for four years in college, so I had a lot of theatre training. While I was doing that I worked at the Washington Opera, I was singing with them. Whenever the Russian Ballet came through I would sing in the background for The Nutcracker. I wanted to be a singer, and I decided to do Art in college because I needed a backup plan. Now, theatre and singing as a major focus with a backup plan in art? How smart is that? So smart.

As soon as I graduated college and got my first job, my husband took me to see Dragonforce and I decided that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I created a band, and I’ve been doing that ever since. It’s been so involved with the band that I never have any time for anything else. So…how did I get involved here, is what you’re about to say, I know it. What’s his face…Rob! Rob, who plays our Pirelli, has been trying to get me to work with Landless forever. He is always saying “you should do this, you’d be perfect.” As it turned out, this August we had nothing because the band is releasing a new album in September— called “The Lesser Key of Solomon.”

Irene: Release party on September 19, 2014 at Jacks.

Nina: Thank you! You can find it on iTunes or Amazon, but you can also hear a bit of it at our website. So no gigs because of that and I was finally able to take Rob up on his offer which was a little like “Hey, Landless is doing Sweeney Todd do you want to play Mrs. Lovett?” And of course I had no idea what that was or who she was but whatever. Then Andy contacted me and said “hey can you come in next week with this song?” and I was like “Sure, whatever.” And then I looked the song up and went “Oh, fuck” because it was “Worst Pies in London.” I had just told him I would learn it. I had to learn it in three days. The way I learn music is to just listen to it over and over again. So I was churning that song out for three days!!

When they told me I had the part I was like “Great!” And then they told me rehearsals were in July and the show opened in August and I sort of freaked. I had to learn all of this crazy shit in a month. So the whole time leading up to the first rehearsal, from the time I knew I had the part until July I was listening to the musical every day in my car on the way to and from work, everywhere. I had Angela Lansbury in my ear while I was working, I was watching it on YouTube, it was everywhere.

Irene: I knew that the project was coming down the pipeline because I had worked with them before. I think Landless knows that I’m not a complete douche-rocket so I get a hall pass.

Nina: Did you just say douche-rocket?

Irene: Yes I did. I am not a douche-rocket. Landless sent me an email that said “Hey, we’re doing this show, we think you’d be fun for the beggar woman, we liked working with you before…” And basically I read that and said “I can be crazy? Fucking sign me up! I am in for that right now!” It’s funny because Lovett is not in my range, I’m a super high soprano, so a lot of Lovett’s stuff I can’t even sing. It’s in a rough spot in my voice so it’s not even a role that I ever would have considered because of that. But fuck do I love playing the beggar woman. It’s awesome! It’s really fun.

Angeleaza: They found me under a rock. No, I’m just kidding. I heard of Landless through Nora Palka, a friend of mine from Catholic. I got an email in May, late May early June and it said “hey, we have your resume, can you come audition for Johanna?” And at that point my life was really crazy. I had rehearsals for two shows and a full-time job. So I didn’t really have the time to come in for an audition. Andy emailed me the “Green Finch” midi and told me to record myself singing it, email it to him, and we would talk. I did. And I had to learn that song in 24 hours. At first I thought “well I’ve heard the song it can’t be that bad…”

Nina: My exact feelings for “Worst Pies” and still felt totally fucked.

Angeleaza: Haha, right? The next day I left work and locked myself in a practice room for six hours and just pounded out that song. Every single verse is so different. It doesn’t repeat. Ever. But I did learn it. I had no idea how I was supposed to sing it, and then he sent me these bands for inspirations. I had no idea, because I could belt it or sing it legit, I actually ended up sending a couple different recordings. But now I’m here so somewhere along the way someone liked something I sent in. How’d they find me? I still don’t know!

What is it like to know that you are representing iconic musical theatre characters while simultaneously representing the new format of Prog Metal Opera in Musical Theatre? What does that mean to be the banner women of this new experience of musical theatre and prog metal?

Melissa: It’s perfect.

Nina: I think we should have capes.

Melissa: We’re super heroes.

Nina: Rob gets to have a cape. He gets to have all the fun. But seriously, the best thing about this musical is getting to tell people that I’m in it. The first thing they ask is “are you Mrs. Lovett?” and I’m like “how did you know?” So when I told my guys in the band, Jesse my bass player said he totally called me being her. My guitar player said he had never seen Sweeney Todd and he asked what does she do? And I said “she cooks people and sells them as pie.” And he just nodded his head and said “Oh, yeah, that’s perfect for you.”

You guys are all bringing varying levels of crazy to your interpretations of these characters, as you just mentioned, Nina. Except maybe you, Angeleaza, Johanna isn’t really that crazy—

Angeleaza: Are you kidding? I think she’s the craziest one of them all! She leans out her window, sees some cute stranger on the street and throws him her key! That’s totally sane. But aside from her being totally crazy, I can totally relate to what Nina was just saying. When I tell people that I’m in this show, everyone asks if I am Johanna. I had never seen Sweeney before. I knew that Johanna was that bitch, you know, she’s Cosette. I am very anti-bubblehead. I’ve been cast as the blonde, the ingénue, before, because you know, I am. But with this, I want people to care about what happens to her.

After I watched half the movie, I had to stop because I didn’t want to see how much more she was played as an idiot. I know she’s played that way because she’s an idiot, she’s absolutely an idiot. I read the book, the original novel, and that helped a lot to create more of a character with her. It’s a dark show. So adding a darker layer to her I think helped to give her substance.

Nina: I feel like she’s using Anthony to get out.

Angeleaza: That was my subtext at first. But then I found out his name was Anthony, so I’ll kiss him. And leave with him.

Nina: He’s taking her to France? Psh, I’m down with that. Take me to France, I’ll kiss him and flee my house too.

Angeleaza: But she’s dark. She kills somebody. Anthony can’t fire the gun, he can’t shoot Fogg so he maintains his innocence, making him the Sweeney foil whereas Johanna just easily pulls the trigger and that really connects her to Sweeney on a subconscious level. I know, nerd confession!

I think I tried to touch on this before, but as women, what does it mean to put your vision out there while simultaneously representing prog metal in theatre and really pioneering and paving the way for this art form to thrive?

Melissa: On my end it’s terrifying. Seriously, I was that nerdy girl in sixth grade who would just sit alone in my room and write metal operas. I never thought that they would ever amount to anything. I just thought this dream would die. So for me this is really crazy and so terrifying because I start to doubt and worry, “what if everyone just thinks I’m a giant douchebag” or something, you know? The fact that people are accepting it is really amazing for me. I think that maybe I’m not crazy, maybe people are ready for this. It’s really crazy when you see your dreams coming true. It’s so hard to believe that people are really on this train and taking this ride with me. I just love metal so much. And I’ve always wanted to share my passion of metal and theatre and it’s just so great that people are really wrapping their minds around it. People can argue that theatre is a dying art, but you know what? Give it some fucking life.

Nina: I never had to think about it like that until you said so, so thanks, more pressure. But no, seriously, I love it.  I love being in front of people and making people laugh. And I will say it, I love being the big, bright, red piece of crap that everyone is staring at. I didn’t know that we were representing that, but if we are? That’s awesome. Call on me, look at me, I’m down. I’m used to getting the weird looks from people about my metal band. I work a “normal person” day job. I’m a graphic designer, so I go to offices and stuff. Anytime I tell someone I’m in a metal band? I get the same response, “Really? Like Metallica?” And I just roll my eyes, and mutter “oh, Jesus Christ.” All the normies, they have this stereotypical idea of what metal is and for some reason they all think it’s Death Metal. I think if people give this a chance that they will understand. They are a little ignorant. People are just a little ignorant of metal.

Andrew Lloyd Baughman as Sweeney Todd and Nina Osegueda as Mrs. Lovett
Andrew Lloyd Baughman as Sweeney Todd and Nina Osegueda as Mrs. Lovett Brandon Penick Photography
Melissa: Andy was not into metal at all before I introduced him. I told him to just give it a shot. And now he’s an Iron Maiden fan and all that. People really think it’s something it’s not. I think metal is beautiful. It’s a beautiful art form; it’s a beautiful style of music. I just want to share it with people. I was seriously made fun of for so long for liking it. I just want people to give it a chance, I just want people to see the beauty in it that I see in it.

Irene: I think for me personally it seems like a lot of my life is an illustration of “you don’t have to do what everyone else tells you to do.” You can be a functional adult, you can do all of the crazy things and you can be happy. You can love what you do. You can create art and you can help people. I am in a metal band and I teach yoga. I facilitate labyrinth walks and I help people meditate. For a lot of people seated meditation is very, very challenging. You need to give the conscious mind something to do, and walking through those chalk paths helps them. I do all of these things and I am a very happy individual. I am covered in tattoos, I have hot pink hair, and I live in this world and it is an illustration that proves “you can do this.” It doesn’t matter what your gender is. You can make all of this incredible artwork and make your life a tapestry that other people will see and say “oh, I can do that too!” One of the best things about this production is it gives me the chance to show the world that theatre isn’t stilted and boring. It doesn’t have to be. You can have fun with it. And actually? Surprise! Most of you like metal, you just don’t know it. It’s like people who are terrified of trying foreign food, just try it. You probably like it without knowing it, just like metal.

Angeleaza: Like I said, I did not know what I was coming into, so hearing the music? It’s still amazing musical theatre just made way better. Oh my god— don’t tell Sondheim! Don’t tell Sondheim I said that! Let me explain that— it’s bringing something amazing to something that was already amazing, and two amazing things are always better than just one. I had a lot of people I know who are theatre people who came and saw the show and had no idea what to expect going in but they loved it. It’s strange because as much as much as I can say “Prog Metal Sweeney Todd” I cannot articulate what that means. You have to be here and you have to hear it to understand it. It’s an entire experience. This show has so much more to it than what people are expecting. I have no idea how to explain it.

This is a mental dedication. Sondheim is not just something you can listen to and pick up like so many shows are nowadays. You actually have to listen, because the patterns are not simple, they aren’t just little repeated phrases like so many of the modern musicals are. Add to that the complexities of Prog Metal and you have this all encompassing experience that really engages your brain, while telling a story, while exposing you to a new musical-performance format; it’s so many things all at once it’s mind-blowing.

What has been the biggest challenge for you all working with this project?

Melissa: My challenge has just been trying to stay true to the story. Everyone knows what Sweeney Todd is supposed to be about. So I approach everything with naïve eyes. I pretend I don’t know the show. I read the script and ask what is it telling me? When I sit in the audience, I try to erase my mind and just watch it as if I’ve never seen the show before, forgetting everything I’ve done up to that point. It’s just this weird skill that I have. Staying true to Sondheim, staying true to my vision, and marrying that all together without offending any side? That is the challenge. If you’re staying true to the story, you’re staying true to everything.

Nina: Learning this damn music. The Prog Metal orchestrations changes some of the lines around a bit, so that was challenging too. Learning how we do it here made me erase lots of things from my brain. No tower of Bray here. No damn ding-donging! Ding dong, ding dong!

Angeleaza: I would agree. My challenge was definitely learning the music. Though it’s not even the music it’s the words. Well it’s not the words, well, yes it’s the words— ok not all the words, just the words in “Kiss Me.” It’s a patter. But in the Prog Metal version, “Kiss Me” is the only song where the key has been changed completely. They changed it so it would be a belting song as opposed to every other song that Johanna sings. Changing your mindset for that is really different. And then they told me that it was Sondheim’s new favorite arrangement, so you know, no pressure or anything. And how many words are in that song? Ugh! Oh and the range! I have to sing almost three octaves in this show. It’s a lot to prepare for. I have to think about where my voice is going and where it’s been for every song.

Irene: I definitely second the arrangements being slightly different challenge. So if you did listen to recordings and like Nina, I tend to learn things by listening to them over and over, you find out that when you show up to rehearsal with one thing learned…the counts are oh so slightly different and sometimes more than oh so slightly different. That will trip your ass right up. I’d actually say for me the bigger challenge is that I’m not an actor, that’s not what I do. So for me that’s a lot of trying to take what I know how to do as a front woman and make it work for this. Unlike Nina I have no background in theatre. I joined the Marines. I know how to do push-ups. Acting is a little beyond my jarhead brain. That is the biggest challenge for me, how do you move? How do you convey an emotion with your body? What face do you make for this moment?

Nina will probably back me up here on this, the words we write as musicians are from in the insides of our heads. That’s easy to act out because you wrote it yourself and you know exactly where it is coming from and what its purpose is. How do you do that with someone else’s thoughts? That’s difficult for me.

Nina: You make a lot of goofy faces. That’s it.

Irene: Nina’s faces will haunt your dreams!

Nina: I keep doing my makeup more and more “drag queen-esque” each show. I think it’s something Lovett would do.

What are you hoping that audiences will take away from this metal theatre hybrid experience?

Nina: I’m hoping that they will like metal afterwards if they didn’t. And I’m hoping that they will like theatre afterward if they didn’t. I have a very specific challenge with my husband: he hates musical theatre. Absolutely hates it. So I’m really hoping that when he sees this show he enjoys it. That is the big hope right there.

Irene: I had that experience with friends who came to see Frankenstein, so you might luck out.

Melissa: I have to echo that sentiment. I have been doing theatre since sixth grade, but I also come from the world of “I hate musical theatre.” So I learned to tweak musical theatre to be more suitable to what I like. But I want to appeal to people like me out there who are just like “oh, gosh, I want to see something with bite.” So I’m hoping that when people walk away they are saying “wow!” And they realize that theatre, especially musical theatre doesn’t have to be all razzle-dazzle tap dancing and big happy song numbers. Not every show needs to be The Sound of Music.

Irene: Blood!

Johanna: Lots of blood!

Nina: I’m actually kind of disappointed that I don’t get much blood on me. I don’t even get it on my hands.

Irene: I’m sure we can fix that.

Melissa: I just want people to come out and enjoy something completely different and walk away appreciating it as a theatre piece or a metal piece. Or if we’re really lucky, as both.

Angeleaza: Along the same lines for me as to what they said. Personally, I obviously like musical theatre. But I get really bored really easily with a lot of musicals. I can appreciate classics because I recognize that they stood for something at their time in history. But I’ve been in The Music Man four times now. I could be in this show right here four times and love every single minute of it. By the second time I was in Music Man, I was bored. I could probably do that show by myself now. There are just so many other options out there I don’t understand why everyone does the same handful of shows over and over and over. I really like the more exciting unheard of musicals, and projects like this! That’s what excites my musical theory brain, and my musical theatre brain. Things that make people think! Things that make you feel something more than just “happy because they’re happy” or “aw, it’s sad everyone died” like in Les Mis.

Irene: Just have a stage covered with bodies. That’s all we want.

Angeleaza: I’ve thought about that— about how Sondheim doesn’t kill Johanna, the moment is right there and it could happen. But then I realized that it’s deeper and more traumatic for her to have to realize everything that has happened, everyone who has died, seeing all of that carnage.

Nina: I want to write a book about what happens to Anthony and Johanna after they go off and get married. They will realize that they have nothing in common—

Angeleaza: Psh! You don’t know! We could totally— we have— I mean, they really like kissing!

Nina: So they have nothing in common. And the first chapter is going to be about how sex is awful. He didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to do. Is that what it’s supposed to be like? And I can’t ask anyone because I’ve been stolen away to France and I don’t speak French! I have no friends and Anthony is now my only companion. And I think that my dad just killed a bunch of people—

Angeleaza: Wait no! She never finds out that Sweeney is her dad.

Melissa: I can see all of this happening back stage…

Irene: We thought about that. We decided Mrs. Mooney tells her.

Nina: Mrs. Mooney has all the secrets. That bitch knows everything. When they come and find Lovett in the oven, Mrs. Mooney is ready to do a tell all… “she had it coming” style.

Angeleaza: That’s a whole different musical.

Melissa: Getting back to what is happening on stage…I really just want people to come and see this show with an open mind. An open mind toward Sweeney, an open mind toward music, and just try to experience this piece as something new. It’s a blank slate. Let the piece speak to you.

Irene: And have fun. This is a fun show. It’s crazy fun.

Angeleaza: There’s lots of blood!

Nina: Blood! Yes! Lots of blood. Come and enjoy the blood. It’s a great show. But mostly come for the blood. Sit in the splash zone, which is the front row.

Landless Theatre Company
Sweeney Todd: Prog Metal Version plays through August 31, 2014 at Landless Theatre Company in the Warehouse Theatre— 645 New York Avenue NW. in Washington, DC. Tickets are available for purchase at the door or in advance online.

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