Two teenagers have been hospitalised after a school performance of Sweeney Todd took “realistic” too far, leaving them with razor neck cuts.
Stephen Sondheim’s famous musical tells the story of the ‘Demon Barber of Fleet Street’, who murders customers by slitting their throats before selling their bodies to Mrs Lovett’s meat pie shop.
Police and health and safety regulators are investigating the incident at Saint Kentigern’s College in New Zealand but treating it as an accident. The two victims, both aged 16 with one suffering more serious injuries, have been discharged from Auckland Hospital.
Steve Cole, headmaster of the school, commented on the “very unfortunate mistake”, insisting that precautions were taken to protect the students.
“It’s normal for Sweeney Todd to have such an instrument. It had clearly been checked many, many times,” he told the New Zealand Herald. “It had been bound and cellophaned and all sorts of things. It was non-sharp, blunted and had been through all sorts of health and safety checks.”
Cole defended the decision to use real razors but admitted that removing the risk altogether would have been wiser. “[Sweeney Todd] was chosen because of the very nature of the talented young men and women we have in year 12 and 13, who wanted something that would push their skills and the boundaries,” he said. “It was deemed important to make it as realistic as possible.”
The throat-slitting scene had reportedly been performed “many times” without incident since the play first began rehearsals in January. Upcoming performances have been postponed until further notice and all students and staff have been offered counselling and support.
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