The bloody tale of Fleet Street’s demon barber in the musical Sweeney Todd chilled patrons at Scarborough Music Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 7 in more ways than one. Audience members spent time braving a cold winter storm on opening night when false fire alarms forced everyone to evacuate the performance three times.
The first alarm sounded at the beginning of intermission. The audience piled out the doors, greeted by chilly winds and snow. Actors followed soon after with only their costumes on. Actress Elizabeth Van Wyck, who plays the Beggar Woman, was just wearing slippers.
“I think there’s wonderful energy tonight and it’s a wonderful opening [night], and we have something to tell stories [about] for years to come,” Van Wyck said.
Several fire trucks arrived shortly after the first alarm. Once the crew declared there was no fire, the crowd re-entered.
The audience took their seats long enough to watch another scene when the fire alarm went off a second time. The crowd re-zipped their jackets, re-wrapped their scarves and again headed outside.
The fire crew showed up again and stated there was no fire.
Before the fire crew left, the alarm sounded for the third and final time. The audience decided to pack into the foyer rather than go outside. A few frustrated audience members left.
Organizers of Sweeney Todd quickly informed the crowd that the fire crew had silenced the alarm and that this would be the end of the interruptions. Most of the audience stayed to see how the rest of the play would unfold. Co-producer Linda Ramsay expressed the crew’s gratitude.
“On behalf of SMT, our apologies. We’re so sorry, but thank you, thank you, thank you so much for hanging in,” Ramsay said.
The show must go on and it did. The play gave the audience a few spooks, a few laughs and plenty of talented vocalists performing the music of Stephen Sondheim.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street will be playing at the Scarborough Music Theatre from Feb. 7-23. Future audiences should expect a show without any “alarming” surprises.