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In tribute to Steven Sondheim’s recent passing, our team decided to reimagine Sweeney Todd in all its thrilling, bloody glory. The state of madness the character Toby is left in by the end coupled with the hyper extreme actions of Sweeney, Mrs. Lovett and Judge Turpin inspired us to ask the question: What if Sweeney Todd was a madman? What if the story took place in an asylum like Bethlem Royal Hospital (dubbed Bedlam) where the inmates put on a show and the audience members were voyeurs to this spectacle? The architecture of 18th-19th century asylums in London have an epic theatrical quality in their design. They were “peep shows” for the wealthy who were allowed to watch treatments on patients or mock the inmates for entertainment, and inmates would perform their madness for coins or liquor. Bedlam is the perfect locale for our characters to make a bloody mess, comment on the spectatorship of care and treatment for the mentally unsound and include characters of different backgrounds that would’ve invariably been ‘put away’ for being othered. 

Winners of the 2023 OPERA America Robert L. B. Tobin Designer Prize 

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