SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

April 1, 2014

Timberlane asked to restore "Sweeney Todd"

PLAISTOW, N.H. — Timberlane Regional High School’s decision to cancel next year’s production of the musical “Sweeney Todd” is drawing national attention.

Since school administrators in Plaistow, N.H., decided to stop the show, news of the decision has circulated around the country and has drawn support for the play from many theater notables.

Some of them may show up at a public forum tomorrow night at the school.

“Sweeney Todd” is the story of a barber who murders his victims. His landlady then bakes them into pies and sells them. But the play is more than a gory tale; it’s about how tyrants can abuse their power.

The performance would have been a PG version of the Stephen Sondheim play, specifically adapted for high school students.

In fact, “Sweeney Todd” is scheduled to be performed later this spring at Windham (N.H.) High School, according to principal Ryan Kaplan.

When students asked to do the play, the administration backed their request, Kaplan said. But, he added, they reserved the right to change the script if necessary if they found the content objectionable.

He said the script is a “PG” version for high school students.

“As a district, we are willing to support the students,” Kaplan said. “We will make it clear this is not a kids show.”

Members of the entertainment industry are weighing in on a Facebook page devoted to conversation about the play and the administration’s decision. It was established by members of the Timberlane community opposed to the move.

Timberlane students were asked to take down their own “Sweeney Todd” Facebook page. The new page was created by Randall Mikkelsen of Plaistow, the parent of a Timberlane graduate.

It has attracted a lot of attention, including that of Broadway producer and Grammy nominee Van Dean and Howard Sherman, a New York-based columnist and arts administrator and producer.

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