(Cover Photo: Shayan Sobhian of the musical "SWEENEY TODD" coming to The Company Theatre in Norwell, MA. beginning October 7, 2022. Photo by Zoe Bradford)
By Kevin T. Baldwin
October 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 2022 at 7:30pm
October 9, 16, 23, 2022 at 3:00pm
The Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive, Norwell, MA. 02061
Phone # 781-871-2787, Fax #781-871-6914, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
TICKETS: $20, $48; Premium Seating $56
For Information and Tickets at www.companytheatre.com/sweeney22/
(Cover Photo: Maryann Zschau and Peter S. Adams in a scene from the musical "SWEENEY TODD" coming to The Company Theatre in Norwell, MA. beginning October 7, 2022. Photo by Zoe Bradford)
"Well, two things, actually," Sobhian says. "First is that the show is only 20 minutes from my house and the second reason is that my wife (Sally) also started at TCT when she was ten years old."
According to Sobhian, "Sally has done a number of shows with TCT and is currently assisting directing the upcoming TCT production of 'Matilda'."
"We talked about it and felt it would be a good idea for both us together to get involved with this theatre," Sobhian says. "I took a tour of the TCT theatre before auditioning and was simply blown away by what they have. This is about as nice a theatre as some of the professional theatres I have been in in New York City."
A graduate of SUNY Purchase, Sobhian recalls his first paid experience.
"My first gig was in New York City in an off-off-off-Broadway premiere of a documentary style play about Syrian refugees loss and guided and did it right after acting school," Sobhian says. "I was so excited to get the part and, while it was a stipend deal, just getting paid to do it was a great experience."
The name of the production was The Angle Project's "Lost and Guided," an original play based on the real lives of Syrian Refugees where Sobhian played a Syrian revolutionary.
Sobhian describes his family life before venturing into acting as a career.
"My parents were more than supportive," Sobhian says. "The only stipulation they had was that I had to get a degree. When I told them I wanted to act, I really did not know how they would react. But they were like 'Great – we've never had an artist in the family before. Just be the best you can be.'"
“SWEENEY TODD” is Directed and Choreographed by Sally Ashton Forrest with Musical Direction by Steve Bass. Sobhian discusses working with this creative team.
"It has been fantastic," Sobhian says, calling Forrest "an amazing director."
"Because she is a choreographer, she approaches directing from a movement perspective which, as an actor, is great to work with," Sobhian says. "I am also movement focused because, when you act, you act with your entire body."
As for Bass, Sobhian also praises the music director stating that, "Steve has been phenomenal."
"He (Bass) put this incredible orchestra together and you need one because this is really complex music," Sobhian says. "But he is more than up to the challenge which means, for an actor, that you're definitely in good hands."
(Photo: Shayan Sobhian in a scene from the musical "SWEENEY TODD" coming to The Company Theatre in Norwell, MA. beginning October 7, 2022. Photo by Zoe Bradford)
What are Sobhian's expectations of this experience?
"Just to be able to say that I have done a Sondheim musical is an actors’ dream, because it is like being in your own kind of musical marathon. I missed being on stage," Sobhian says. "But here I am - working hard to pull this off, back into singing lessons, being diligent about warm-ups and all of this is getting me back into 'theatre shape,' so to speak."
Sobhian's character, Anthony Hope, is appropriately named as the young sailor on leave brings an unbridled enthusiasm and anticipation, hope, in almost every scene.
This is evident in one of the “SWEENEY TODD” opening numbers “No Place Like London” and in his obsession with the beautiful Johanna (played in the TCT production by actress Dru Desmond).
Sobhian examines the circumstances and motivations that drive his particular character.
"Anthony is on shore leave and he doesn’t have much time. He’s looking for a nice time on the town and he sees Johanna," Sobhian says. "He thinks he has some good intentions - but what is interesting is that he gets swept up in all the 'Sweeney chaos.'
Sobhian says Hope also brings a lot of "raw sexual energy which is a lot of fun to play with."
"What has been really fun is that he (Hope) is like a Disney prince trapped inside a horror movie," Sobhian says. "He has this valid interest in Johanna but that gets all thrown off as a result of Sweeney."
There are so many great Sondheim tunes in the show from the aforementioned “No Place Like London” to “Best Pies in London” and “God That’s Good” just to name a few.
Sobhian's favorite song is actually sung by Sweeney Todd to the character of Judge Turpin (played in the TCT production by actor Christopher Hagberg) in order to manipulate the judge into a false sense of safety as Sweeney plots his ultimate revenge against the twisted judge.
"My favorite song, I have to say, has got to be 'Pretty Women,"' Sobhian says. "When they did it at the sitzprobe (a rehearsal where the cast sings the entire score of a show with the orchestra) Steve (Bass) said it was the best song in the show and I totally agree. The voices just sound incredible."
The world of musical theatre unfortunately lost the master Stephen Sondheim last year and Sobhian both writes and produces his own music, as well. From the perspective of a composer, what does Sobhian consider the most crucial contribution Sondheim brought to the world of contemporary musical theatre?
"What I always appreciated was that he was both lyricist and composer," Sobhian says, describing how most Sondheim works lend themselves perfectly to the performer.
"As an actor, I can tell just how deliberate everything he wrote is, Sobhian says. "Nothing is arbitrary. Every single note of music is meticulously chosen for a reason. I was also struck by how, lyrically, his characters always feel relatable and well thought out. Sondheim brought a real depth and respect to the form."
Sobhian describes learning the Sondheim score as "a great challenge."
"There are a lot of complicated musical counterpoints and harmonies – Sondheim always keeps you on your toes. Because he is so deliberate, most of it (the score) just plays itself."
(Photo: Shayan Sobhian from the musical "SWEENEY TODD" coming to The Company Theatre in Norwell, MA. beginning October 7, 2022. Photo by Zoe Bradford)
Sobhian discusses his expectations from those audiences that come to see “SWEENEY TODD.”
"The music is a lot of fun and, when the people in the audience leave, I hope that a lot of these songs become stuck in their heads," Sobhian says. "This is a special show."
"I hope they just have an awesome night - not thinking about their own problems as they escape into this Victorian world," Sobhian says. "I'm hoping for just this big wave of energy that will be equal parts exciting and electrifying."
Tickets for the TCT performances are $20, $48; Premium Seating $56
For Information and Tickets at www.companytheatre.com/sweeney22/
The show runs approximately three hours with one intermission.
Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)
Stephen Sondheim’s delightfully daring musical masterpiece, "SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET," comes alive on stage as the audience descends into the darkest streets of London.
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30 Accord Park Drive
Norwell, MA 02061 USA
Phone: (781) 871-2787
Fax: (781) 871-6914