New Jersey Stage

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Close Shave at Kean University

PHOTO CREDIT:  Paul Whelihan
(UNION, NJ) -- The Theatre Department at Kean University presents the Stephen Sondheim / Hugh Wheeler musical, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street on February 25 through March 5 in the Zella Fry Theatre on the Union, NJ campus. The Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of Benjamin Barker, alias Sweeney Todd, who returns to London after 15 years' exile on false charges.  When he learns from his former landlady, Mrs. Lovett of the atrocities committed against his wife by the very judge who wrongly transported him, Todd vows a bloody revenge.  Opening in 1980 with Broadway veterans Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou, and popularized for modern audiences by the 2007 movie version with Johnny Depp in the title role, the piece is brimming with humor and a resplendent score despite its macabre premise.

"In the style of the Grand Guignol, it's both horrific and hysterical," said Holly Logue, Acting Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and director of the production.  "And in the intimacy of the Zella Fry Theatre, people can experience a front row splash!"

Joey Morales is a second year theatre major at Kean who portrays the murderous Sweeney Todd.  A native of Jersey City, Morales has already appeared in Kean productions of "…Spelling Bee" (Mitch), As Is (Rich), The Pillowman (Ariel) and Encores!Retrospective (Soloist).  Regionally he has played in Ragtime, Showboat and Secret Garden and can be heard in professional recordings of Little Shop of Horrors as Audrey II and South Pacific.

Mrs. Lovett is played by theatre education major Robyn Lee who has performed at Paper Mill Playhouse in Children of Eden and at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Carnival. This past summer she performed in a concert version of Brigadoon at the Shubert Theatre in Manhattan along side the original Benjamin Barker (Mr. Cariou) and Christine Ebesol.  She's been seen in productions around the country that include Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Mrs. Walker in Tommy and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.

The cast includes the gifted ensemble of Kean students:  Allison Cloonan (Middletown), Elio E. Llleo (West New York), Lissette Valentin (Kearny),  Samantha Mellina (Westfield), Katelyn Morgan (Phillipsburg), John Kushnerick (Edison), Cassandra Otten (Shrewsburg), Zach McCullough (Matawan), Travis Morgan (Carteret), Cara Ganski (Vineland), Anthony Crouchelli (New Milford), Greg Scalera (Colonia), Krystle Haliotis (Linden), Josh Schnetzer (Asbury), Ryan Kaczynski (Edison), Emily Deluca Daly (Manalapan), Patrick Getty (Metuchen), Tony Mowatt (Union), Abby Nadel (Springfield), Lauren Sodono (Colonia), and Jonathan Wells (Middlesex).

Tickets for Sweeney Todd are $15 standard, $12 for faculty, staff, seniors and alumni and $10 for students.  Call the Kean University box office at 908-737-SHOW (7469) or visit  For further information on the College of Visual and Performing Arts, visit

Founded in 1855, Kean University has become one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, boasting a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment, offering more than 50 undergraduate degrees and more than 45 options leading to a master's degree, doctorate, professional diploma and/or state certification(s). Five undergraduate colleges and the Nathan Weiss Graduate College now serve more than 15,000 students.