South students take part in Illinois All State Musical, Sweeney Todd


photo courtesy of Aaron Kaplan

Conducting Kaplan: Performing music from the musical, Sweeney Todd, the orchestra for the All State Musical is led by Aaron Kaplan, Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra director. The orchestra contained students from South and schools across Illinois.

Susie You and Gabby Zabat

Audience members rush into the auditorium as they wait in anticipation for the gruesome, memorable and historic play. Behind the velvet curtains lie the Illinois All State Musical, Sweeney Todd, as students from all over Illinois come together to bring the urban legend to life. The All State Musical took place at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign as part of the 42nd annual Illinois High School Theatre Festival that ran from Jan. 5-7.

The musical brings to life the 1890s literature of serial killer, Sweeney Todd. Legend states that Todd was falsely accused of murder and was later sent to London, and as a result, the story tells Todd’s journey of murdering civilians and seeking revenge on the judge who sent him away. Although the play is very dark and suspenseful, junior Andria Radaios states that the theater doesn’t usually perform these types of plays.

“[The musical] is not a happy play like most plays [the theater] does,” Radaios said. “[The directors]  picked a very sad play that was like a tragedy.”

Radaios has played the violin for the Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra (GSO) ever since her freshman year and was part of the orchestra for the All State Musical. Although Radaios had to get used to the different musical stylings of the play, she explains overall that she had a fun experience with the cast and orchestra from around the state.

“[The musical] was really cool, especially because [it included] kids from all over Illinois and I met a lot of new people, so I liked it a lot,” Radaios said.

According to Radaios, rehearsals were very exhausting because they would meet once a month for 12 hours. Ensemble member Yael Sheinfeld explains that scheduling rehearsals was very complicated because of the many people involved, but nevertheless, she says she still appreciated the opportunity to meet new people in their theatrical environment.

“It was really awesome [because] I don’t really get the chance to interact with kids from other schools or […] outside of Illinois,” Sheinfeld said.

In fact, Sheinfeld says her favorite memories included spending time with her new cast mates. She explains how she misses hanging out with the rest of her ensemble in their dressing rooms throughout the show. Overall, she enjoyed having new experiences with students from around the state.

“It was really interesting to see the differences and similarities between kids from down state and up here,” Sheinfeld said.

GSO director Aaron Kaplan says he had a great time conducting the music for his second year with the Illinois High School Theatre. Kaplan explains that he loves conducting the orchestra because he remembers being in the students’ position as well. In fact, he was able to bring his closest friends to help conduct the music of the play.

“My favorite memory of being involved as a student is making those friendships and being part of such a unique production that is really an amazing process, and you’re able to work with the best of the best from all over the state,” Kaplan said.

Throughout the production, Kaplan also had to handle the difficulties of the play. According to Kaplan, Sweeney Todd is considered one of the most challenging musicals ever written because of the difficult and dissident music. In addition, there was much trouble with the furniture and technology of the set.

“There are a lot of technical components and difficulties […], but all the challenges make the production really fun,” Kaplan said.