In Part 6 of a series of interviews with the director and cast of Laurel Mill Playhouse’s Sweeney Todd meet Lauren Lowell.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you on local stages before and what shows you and roles you have appeared in and played.
Laurel: Hi! My name is Lauren Lowell and, most recently, I was the flight attendant ancestor in Dundalk Community Theatre’s production of Addams Family last Spring. Other recent roles include “Audrey” in Little Shop of Horrors with Artistic Synergy and “Christmas Eve” in Greenbelt Art Center’s production of Avenue Q.
Why did you want to appear in this production of Sweeney Todd? Have you appeared in other productions of Sweeney and if yes-who did you play?
Sweeney Todd has been one of my favorite shows since high school when I first discovered the genius of Sondheim. It’s been on my “theatre bucket list” for a long time!
How is this production similar or different from other productions you have appeared in, or seen?
TJ’s vision of Sweeney is grittier than other productions I’ve seen locally. Gritty is GOOD! Sweeney Todd shouldn’t be glossy or superficial. It’s a dark story of fatally flawed, obsessed characters.
Who do you play and how do you relate to your character?
I play the “Beggar Woman” who rants and raves through the streets of London about “Mischief” and “Devil’s work” and, well, I don’t usually rant and rave in real life unless it’s about cats.
What have been some of the challenges preparing for your role?
I am usually cast in ditzy or comedic roles and I have a naturally sunny disposition, so tapping into the darker side of my personality has been a welcome challenge. The “Beggar Woman” is played differently in every recording I’ve listened to or production I’ve seen. There is so much you can do with her character. It’s exciting to be given a chance to develop my own version of her.
How would you describe Stephen Sondheim’s score for Sweeney Todd?
The score for Sweeney is dark and dissonant. There are amazing harmonies within the intense ensemble numbers that are balanced with gorgeous ballads. The comedic numbers are so cleverly crafted. There isn’t much you don’t get out of this show musically.
What is your favorite song that you don’t sing in the show and why?
I have two favorites… “Epiphany” and “A Little Priest”. They come up right next to each other in the show and it’s such a bi-polar feeling when Sweeney sings “They all deserve to die” and then Lovett follows up with a hilarious song about pies. I can never separate the two songs.
What are your solos/duets and what do we learn about your characters as you sing these songs/solos?
I pop up in “No Place Like London,” “Ah, Miss,” and a few other numbers. There are little hints sprinkled here and there about the “Beggar Woman” and her backstory. She is NOT a stable person.
What has been the most challenging scenes/songs to learn and perform and how has your director helped you to overcome these challenges?
My sections of “Johanna (Quartet)” were difficult to learn. My goal is to truly sing this part as it is written. When researching the music for this show I found that most actresses that played the “Beggar Woman” chose to speak a lot of sung lines. I’m trying my best to stay true to the score while adding in my own characterizations. TJ has been very supportive and encouraging during this process while letting me develop this character.
What do you admire most about your castmates’ performances?
Everyone sounds FANTASTIC! But even more than that, I am in awe at the dedication everyone is putting into this show and their individual parts. I also feel this cast is extremely supportive of one another. If I’m unsure of a music section I know I can go to Andrew Exner (our “Beadle”) or Carolyn Freel (“Johanna”) during a break and they will go over my part with me. There are a lot of great musicians in this cast.
What does Sweeney Todd have to say to modern theatregoers? Why do you think it is still so popular?
The music is timeless; it’s a style that will always endure. The story is classic; there’s revenge, there’s obsession, and there’s PIE!!
What is your favorite kind of pie?
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Sweeney Todd at Laurel Mill Playhouse?
I want our audiences to be left a little breathless at the end of our show. I want them to feel conflicted and talk about which characters they were sympathetic to on the car ride home. And if they are new to Sweeney and hope this show creates a new obsession in their lives.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street plays through November 15, 2015 at Laurel Mill Playhouse – 508 Main Street, in Laurel, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (301) 617-9906, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of Laurel Mill Playhouse’s ‘Sweeney Todd’: Part 1: Director TJ Lukacsina.
Meet the Cast of Laurel Mill Playhouse’s ‘Sweeney Todd’: Part 2: Chad Wheeler.
Meet the Cast of Laurel Mill Playhouse’s ‘Sweeney Todd’: Part 3: Kay-Megan Washington.
Meet the Cast of Laurel Mill Playhouse’s ‘Sweeney Todd’: Part 4: Carolyn Freel.
Meet the Cast of Laurel Mill Playhouse’s ‘Sweeney Todd’: Part 5: Garrett Matthews.
Meet the Cast of Laurel Mill Playhouse’s ‘Sweeney Todd’: Part 6: Lauren Lowell.
Em Skow reviews ‘Sweeney Todd’ on DCMetroTheaterArts.