Garfield Center to Present Sondheim’s Dark Musical Sweeney Todd

On April 27th director Shelagh Grasso and musical director Julie Lawrence will be opening a new musical at the Garfield Center for the Arts; Stephen Sondheim & Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. This will be the first musical that the Garfield Center has produced since Garfield Executive Director Tess Hogans directed My Fair Lady in 2016. This is a big year for musicals at the Garfield Center, with Jennifer Kafka Smith directing The Marx Bros. musical comedy, Animal Crackers in September.

The story of Sweeney Todd first appeared in the 1830s in England and was soon adapted for the London stage. When Stephen Sondheim, the celebrated producer of hit Broadway musicals, saw a version of the play in London in the mid 1970s, he asked Hugh Wheeler to collaborate with him on a musical adaptation. When the new Sweeney Todd opened on Broadway in 1979, it became an instant hit and later walked away with that year’s Tony award—Broadway’s highest honor.

The public was shocked but thoroughly entertained by the gruesome storyline of this musical thriller, which focuses on the murderous machinations of a vengeful English barber and his accommodating landlady. The play follows the barber, Sweeney Todd, as he plots his revenge against Judge Turpin, who sent him to prison on false charges—an act which causes the destruction of Sweeney’s family. As Sweeney’s revenge plot accidentally broadens to include other citizens of the corrupt society of Victorian London, his landlady, Mrs. Lovett, finds a way to cover up the barber’s crimes as well as her own. Through this darkly comic story, Wheeler explores the motivations for, and consequences of, revenge.

This new cast consists actors who frequent the Garfield stage, as well as a surprising number of new faces. The cast includes Christopher Wallace, Jane Copple, Melissa McGlynn, Matt Folker, Nic Carter, Shannon Whittaker, Max Hagan, Natalie Lane, Zack Schlag, Howard Messick, Zac Ryan, Kendall Davis, Nevin Dawson, Brian Whitaker, Doug Porter, Marcia Gilliam, Mallory Westlund, Kathy Jones, David Ryan, Brian Whitaker, Gil Rambach, Connor Christopher, Haley Melton, Robbie Spray and Troy Strootmam.

The show runs for three weekends, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm, April 27-May 13. Come on opening night to sample some of Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies, for sale at the concession stand!

Sweeney Todd is sponsored in part by The Hedgelawn Foundation.

Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for military/seniors 65+ and $10 for students. They are available online at or by calling the Garfield Center box office at 410-810-2060. The Garfield Center for the Arts is located at 210 High Street in Chestertown.

Garfield Center Announces Open Auditions for Musical Sweeney Todd

The Garfield Center for the Arts is holding open auditions for their spring musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street on February 6th& 8th at 6pm and February 10th at 11am. Seasoned director Shelagh Grasso will be casting her Garfield Center debut show, which is scheduled to open on April 27th and run for three weekends.

Sweeney Todd, one of the darkest musicals ever written, creates an environment of dirty, oppressed, class distinctive London in the Victorian era of the mid 19th century; an environment that allows the distinction between the wealthy and the lower classes to be quite evident. It presented opportunities for the rich to control the poor, to “squash them like cabbage leaves” to quote another famous musical. This is the premise of the story of Sweeney Todd; a barber who plots his revenge against Judge Turpin who sent him to prison on false charges. When revenge eludes him, Sweeney swears vengeance on the entire human race, murdering as many people as he can, while his business associate, Mrs. Lovett, finds interesting use for the bodies. Against this darkest of dark back-grounds it is also a love story and a reflection of the class system in England at that time.

Sweeney Todd is perhaps composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s perfect score. It is lush, operatic and full of soaring beauty, pitch black comedy and stunning terror.  It won multiple awards and presents one of the most complex stories and music in the musical theatre tradition.  It is an amazing, artistic and complicated challenge for all who become involved in it, including the audience.

Anyone interested in auditioning needs to prepare 16 measures of Broadway music, (music should not be from Sweeney Todd. There will be an accompanist at auditions and they should bring 2 copies of the music), Prepare a short, preferably memorized monologue and be prepared for cold readings.

The director is looking for a cast of 20 to fill 6 male singing roles, 3 female singing roles, 1 male non-singing role and a chorus of about 10.

Sweeney Todd …age 40-55…Bass baritone
Mrs. Lovett…age 35-50….Mezzo-Soprano
Anthony Hope…age 20-30….Bari-tenor
Johanna…age 20ish…Soprano
Judge Turpin….age 50-60…Bass
Tobias…….age 15-25…Tenor or Boy Soprano
Beadle Bamford…Age 30-50
Beggar Women/Lucy… Age 40-55… Mezzo-Soprano
Pirelli…age 40ish…Operatic tenor

Any inquiries about Sweeney Todd auditions or any other event at the Garfield Center can be directed to Executive Director Tess Hogans at, or by calling the box office at 410-810-2060. The Garfield Center for the Arts is located at 210 High Street in Chestertown.

Garfield Center Open Auditions

Mike Cades and Kayla Klugman in the 2016 SAST festival.

The Garfield Center for the Arts seeks actors for “Short Attention Span Theatre” (our annual 10-minute play festival) and “Hey! Wait a Minute!” (One-minute plays).

Auditions will take place at the Garfield Center on the following dates:

Tuesday, May 2 @ 7pm
Thursday, May 4 @ 7pm
Sunday, May 7 @ 11am

Actors should be prepared to do cold readings from provided scripts. No experience is necessary.

Short Attention Span Theatre will run three weekends: June 23-25, June 30-July 2, and July 7-9.

Everyone is encouraged to audition. Those who are unable to attend auditions can contact the theater at 410-810-2060 to make other arrangements. Stage crew, set builders, set painters, costumers and assistant directors are also needed. Anyone interested in helping should stop by the Garfield during auditions to leave their contact information.

For more information, contact SAST producer Mark Sullivan at, or call 410-810-2060 or visit our website

About Short Attention Span Theatre (SAST)
At the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre, playwrights, directors and actors who delight in the art of the 10-minute play are at it again! Short Attention Span Theatre offers an evening of 10-minute plays, designed to hold your attention for just long enough. The plays will feature a multitude of actors, directors and authors, as well as the world premiere of original works by local playwrights.

Holy Cow: The Nighthawks Comes back to Chestertown November 11

Blues fans rejoice; the legendary band The Nighthawks are performing at the Garfield Center for the Arts on November 11th at 8pm. This is the group’s second appearance at the theatre, as they close out the 2016 “Blues at the Garfield” concert series. The Nighthawks played for a sold-out crowd for the 2015 concert series, so get your tickets early!

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-8-33-04-amThese roots & blues veterans are a respected band with a long and storied history behind the name. Formed in 1972 by singer/harp player Mark Wenner and guitarist Jimmy Thackery, the band was part of a thriving early 1970s Washington D.C. music scene that included talents like Roy Buchanan and Danny Gatton. Through the years, the band has released more than 20 albums and rotated through a number of musicians, but they’ve always been led by Wenner’s undeniable vision and love of music.
Some 40+ years later, the band is still rockin’ and earning new fans around the world. In April 2015 the Nighthawks released their latest EllerSoul Records album, Back Porch Party. Following up on their critically-acclaimed 2014 album 444, the Nighthawks – frontman Wenner, guitarist Paul Bell, bassist Johnny Castle, and drummer Mark Stutso – put together another fine set of blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll with a bit of twang and R&B thrown in for good measure.

This concert is the sixth and final Blues at the Garfield show in 2016. Tickets are $30 general admission and $20 for students. Come back to the theatre for more music in 2017 with “Roots at the Garfield”, a five concert series sponsored by Andrew and Leslie Price that highlights early blues, country, folk, r&b and rock music. Subscriptions for the series are $125 for a single subscriber, and $250 for couples.

Tickets to The Nighthawks and 2017 subscriptions can be purchased at the Garfield Box Office, online at or by calling 410-810-2060. The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre is located at 210 High Street, Chestertown, MD, 21620.

Eastern Shore Blues Series at Garfield Center Begins May 9

Damon Fowler

Damon Fowler

Attention Blues lovers! The Eastern Shore Blues Society and the Garfield Center for the Arts are pleased to announce the inaugural year of the Eastern Shore Blues Series.featuring six concerts of nationally and regionally renowned blues artists.

The series kicks off on Friday, May 9 at 8 pm with one of the hottest young blues guitarists on the circuit, Damon Fowler, playing steel guitar, Dobro and pedal steel. He has been compared to Johnny Winter, Jeff Beck and Duane Allman. Expect to hear Fowler and his band playing everything from swamp rock, (he is from Florida, after all), to jump blues and even some crooning. Song samples available at

On June 13, the series will feature the Roger Girke Organ Trio, and the fabulous guitar slinger Debbie Davies performs Friday, July 11 with her band. Future shows are October 10, November 14 and December 12. There are a few subscription tickets left for the series, which includes a seat for all six shows, a special pre-concert, July 11, cocktail party and a Collector’s Blues Series Poster.

Subscription tickets and tickets for individual shows are available on line at or by calling the box office at 410 810 2060.