December 20, 2014  

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Mannoni Performing Arts Center to Re-open in 2013 with “Sweeney Todd”

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Next year, the Mannoni Performing Arts Center will reopen after a brief hiatus following renovation work. To celebrate the refreshed hall, The University of Southern Mississippi School of Music plans a show on an epic scale and a first for Hattiesburg – Stephen Sondheim’s chilling, Tony Award–winning musical, Sweeney Todd. Performances will be Feb. 28 – March 3, 2013.

A chilling, suspenseful, heart-pounding masterpiece of murderous barber-ism and culinary crime, Sweeney Todd tells the infamous tale of the unjustly exiled barber who returns to 19th century London seeking revenge against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. His thirst for blood soon expands to include his unfortunate customers, and the resourceful proprietress of the pie shop downstairs soon has the people of London lining up in droves with her mysterious new meat pie recipe!

“The School of Music at Southern Miss is thrilled to be collaborating with our colleagues in the Department of Theater to produce this epic Broadway show,” said Dr. Michael Miles, director of the School of Music and music director of the show. “Showcasing the incredible talents of our faculty and students, it will be a night to remember for both followers of the musical and newcomers to the decadent and heinous story of revenge.”

To direct the production, the School of Music had to look no further than its’ own Mike Lopinto, who is no stranger to grand spectacle and theatrical showpieces. Equally adept on and off the stage, Lopinto has been the creative genius behind spectacular, award-winning events around the south. He has written, directed and performed in innumerable shows, most recently directing Maryann Kyle’s one-woman-show, Sondheim in the City in its Broadway premiere.

“This is without a doubt one of my favorite musicals and I am honored to have been asked to helm this masterwork,” said Lopinto. “The incredible team that we have assembled makes this an even more exciting proposition and I have no doubt audiences will be wowed by the talent on stage and off.”

Sophisticated, macabre, visceral and uncompromising, Sweeney Todd nevertheless has a great sense of fun, mixing intense drama with howlingly funny moments of dark humor. Audiences find themselves laughing hysterically one moment and gasping in surprise the next.

Stephen G. Judd, head of design and technology and professor of scenic design at Southern Miss, will create the dark and mysterious world the characters inhabit while Kelly James-Penot, costume shop supervisor at Southern Miss, will design the period costumes for the large cast.

The creative team also includes Jennifer Hart, chorus master, Tammy Mansfield, production manager and Daniel Lewis, stage manager.

To further accent the grand scope of the production, auditions are open to the community. They will be held at Marsh Auditorium on campus at 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24 with callbacks the following day. More information is available at www.facebook.com/USMSchoolofMusic by searching events.

Advance tickets are only available as part of the symphony season. Individual tickets will go on sale Oct. 31. All may be purchased at the Southern Miss Ticket Office. For information call 601.266.5418.