What are the chances that two arts organizations in the small city of Santa Barbara, CA,   would be doing a production within a few weeks of each other with the name of the Stephen Sondheim masterpiece, Sweeney Todd attached to it ?

What are the chances that each organization was surprised, to say the least, to discover that information?

I do believe that mouths of the staffs of DANCEworks at the Lobero Theatre as well as at Ensemble Theatre, a stone’s throw away, were simultaneously opened in disbelief!

adults showing surprise baby showing surprise woman showing surprise

Neither organization had a clue about this pending coincidence, until our County Arts Coordinator casually announced it at a meeting.

Immediately, several conversations ensued between both organizations.  We sought to clarify and turn fear into understanding, and hopefully into opportunity.

So here’s the deal and a closer look at the differences of each organization’s production:

Ensemble Theatre is doing a licensed full blown production of Sweeney Todd from October 8-25, 2015.  Here’s their marketing description:

Sondheim returns to ETC with a soaring musical masterpiece that tells the tale of a barber seeking justice for the corrupt London judge who exiled him. Partnered with a delicious pie shop proprietress, they exact a fearsome revenge as she concocts an alarming new recipe that has the people of London lining up.  Hysterically funny and chillingly intense!

DANCEworks 2015 resident choreographer, Adam Barruch, will be investigating some of the music from Sweeney Todd, from a dance theatre perspective.  He’ll use live music, his own company of accomplished NYC actors/dancers, as well as a number of local performers, all integrated into the performances, September 25, 26 at the Lobero Theatre. Adam’s interpretation will be an adventurous, humorous, original and a startling dance theatre departure from the original play. It’s also a work-in-progress that will have been developed during his DANCEworks residency throughout the month of September.  Additional Barruch repertory will round out the program.

Here’s Adam’s astonishing interpretation of Sondheim’s Worst Pies that started it all.  I loved it and thought of Adam as a choreographer to consider for DANCEworks.  Mr. Sondheim was sent a copy of this performance, liked it, and subsequently met with Adam to give his blessing for further development.  Enter DANCEworks and Adam’s September 2015 residency!

So in this case, Bring it all on, says I.

I encourage theatre and dance patrons to see both productions.  Each production will enrich the experience of viewing the other, I do believe.  We’re VERY excited.

In this case, more is more and neither production will diminish the other, but should add to the appreciation of the genius that is Sondheim and to appreciation of the courage and spirit and talent of a young explosive choreographer, Adam Barruch!



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