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Sweeney Todd Opens in Pasadena

The Pacific Opera Project production takes place in the newly remodeled Portico Art Space.

The Murderous Barber of Fleet Street has returned to Pasadena just in time for Halloween. The Pacific Opera Project presents Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" at the new Porticos Art Space (formerly a gymnasium).

"Sweeney Todd" features a cast of 40 and live orchestra with tickets prices of $30 or less. The POP opened Porticos in May with a very successful production of Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte," set a la "Gone with the Wind."

"We're an exciting, young, ambitious company featuring the very best talent Los Angeles has to offer. We also bring in young, up-and-coming singers from across the country," POP co-founder Josh Shaw said. "It's not your stand-and-sing-in-a-viking-helmet situation. Typically, our singers are in their mid-20s to 30s, look good and sing great...We work on a shoe-string budget, but so far we have been able to offer very high quality performances."

Shaw and his business partner, Stephen Karr, founded POP in July 2011 with a focus on bringing affordable and accessible opera to audiences across L.A. without sacrificing high artistic standards.

"We wanted to fill a void that we had both sensed," Karr said, explaining that opera lovers here don't have many options: It's either the Los Angeles Opera, with ticket prices upwards of $100, or a sub-standard production by a smaller company.

In the past year, POP has performed "Trouble in Tahiti", "Don Giovanni", "Cosi fan tutte", and now "Sweeney Todd" in venues across L.A., including Santa Monica, Studio City and Pasadena.

And the group's popularity has taken off; Saturday's opening performance of "Sweeney Todd" sold out weeks ago, Shaw said.

But this likely won't be the last you hear of Shaw or Karr. The POP founders have big ambitions. The eventually want to find a permanent home and become known as "the second opera company in L.A.," behind the Los Angeles Opera.

"We've got really big ideas for what we want to do," Shaw said, urging audiences to "just come try us."

Here's What You Need to Know If You Go:

  • When: Porticoes Theatre, 2033 E. Washington Blvd. Pasadena: October 20 8 p.m., October 21, 4 p.m., October 26, 8 p.m., October 27, 8 p.m., October 28 4 p.m.
  • The Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd. Santa Monica: October 31, 8 p.m. (costumes encouraged), November 2, 8pm, November 38pm,    November 4 4pm

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