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‘Sweeney Todd’ wraps MST repertory on Friday

‘Sweeney Todd’ wraps MST repertory on Friday

From the Novato Advance

Published: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 10:00 PM PDT

Marin Summer Theater (MST) wraps its repertory of performances with “Sweeney Todd” at the Emily Gates Student Center in Novato on July 31, Aug. 1 and 2. The third and final production of MST’s 2009 season, “Sweeney Todd” is Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s chilling, suspenseful musical masterpiece of murderous barber-ism and culinary crime.

The show tells the infamous tale of the unjustly exiled 19th-century barber who returns to London seeking revenge against the lecherous judge who framed him.

Taking on the challenging roll of Sweeney is Alex Greene, an acting major at College of Marin. Recently Alex, his sister Gigi Greene and other MST company members David Paulson, Rose Oser, Christopher Zander and Kyla Ainsworth talked about their MST experience.

Greene auditioned for MST knowing that he wanted to play Sweeney. “I picked audition pieces that were specifically like the character of Sweeney,” he said, “but I still put myself down for all of the shows, and ended up being in all three.”
Kyla Ainsworth, a senior at San Marin High School, said, “I was not sure how to prepare, so I attended the audition workshop offered by MST last spring. I learned a song and a monologue, and was offered parts in two shows.”

When asked how the MST program of presenting three shows in seven weeks compared to performances he had done in the past, Paulson of Arizona State said, “Working on multiple shows is chaos. But I’ve been taught that from the midst of chaos comes creativity.”

Oser, who will attend UC Berkeley this fall and is “Sweeney Todd” assistant director, said, “MST is great in that it presents a variety of shows, which gives everyone a moment to shine.” In particular, Oser enjoys the wide range of ages in the MST Company (13 to 23). “I enjoyed working with Jane Regan (of Miller Creek Middle School)in ‘Beaux Stratagem,” he explained. “But when I saw her solo in Bernstein, it was so sensational, I was intimidated. It is inspiring to see so much talent at such a young age.”

Gigi Green, a senior at Redwood High School who plays the beggar woman in Sweeney, said, “I enjoy working with the younger kids, but I learned a lot of stuff by working with the college-age members. At the same time that they have mentored me, I’ve tried to help the younger members of the company.”

The most challenging part of the summer for Christopher Zander, a senior at San Marin High School, was playing piano for “Bernstein on Broadway.” He had never played in a pit orchestra before and found Bernstein’s music very unpredictable compared to the classical pieces he normally plays. Zander plays the part of Beadle Bamford in “Sweeney Todd.”

For Gigi Greene, the challenge was getting all of the nuances of her characters in so little time. “In Bernstein, you could be in five or six numbers each with totally different characters, and then come into Sweeney and have to play something completely different. Switching roles every five minutes is very challenging for an actor,” she said.

Ainsworth said, “MST is close to what professional theater must be like. MST is hard, but it is also fun.”

All of these students would recommend MST to anyone serious about developing skills in any aspect of theater. Gigi Greene said “(MST) gives you the opportunity to explore everything: you’ve got musical theater, a review and a straight play, tech, backstage work and assistant directing.” Paulson added, “This program will give you the opportunity to grow, no matter what level you are at when you start.”

For these performers, it was very important that MST schedules rehearsals in the evenings. Most company members work, take classes, or participate in sports during the day. And all agreed when Paulson said “I also like being able to sleep in ??” when I can”.

Director Pat Nims says it is no accident that “Sweeney Todd” is the final show of the MST season. “ ‘Sweeney Todd’ is an epic musical. We’ve been working on it since June 22, while preparing for Beaux and Bernstein. We gave ourselves an extra week to focus just on Sweeney because of the difficulty of the music and acting. But the cast and crew have moved mountains to put together amazing shows all summer, and Sweeney will be no exception.”

Performances of “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” will be at 8 p.m. on July 31 and Aug. 1, and at 2 p.m. on Aug. 2. All shows are staged at the Emily Gates Student Center, San Marin High School. Details and tickets are available on the MST web site at

For more information about Marin Summer Theater, call Patrick Nims at (707) 781-6302 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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About Marin Summer Theater

Marin Summer Theater (MST) is an award winning non-profit theater company for students of performing arts between the ages of 13 and 23. The MST company prepares and presents three fully-staged productions in a six-week summer season. MST's mission is threefold: To present exciting, professional quality drama, musical theater and musical revue productions; to keep tuition as low as possible so that cost is not a barrier to participation; to create a diverse company of college and high school students.

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