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Ft. Thomas Native, NKU Grad Takes Title Role in Carnegie's Sweeney Todd

The Carnegie opens its 2014-2015 season with some bloody fun.
 
“Sweeney Todd,” a genuine musical masterpiece, performs in Covington’s resident theater Aug. 8-23, a co-production of The Carnegie and Commonwealth Theatre, which has wrapped up its annual summer season at Northern Kentucky University.
 
Don’t know “Sweeney Todd,” a.k.a. “The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”? It’s about a barber who returns to Victorian London bent on vengeance. Years earlier, an evil judge who lusted after his beautiful wife had Sweeney imprisoned.
 
Now all Sweeney Todd wants is the judge’s neck.
 
But getting there means he has to befriend Mrs. Lovett, wo makes the worst meat pies in London, until Sweeney starts providing her with a better brand of mystery meat.
 
Horror, comedy, romance – the Victorians ate up the original story and the musical thriller by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler has a top-notch team led by director Ken Jones and musical director Jamey Strawn, both NKU theater faculty members. 
 
NKU grad and Fort Thomas native Justin Glaser takes the title role, one of his dream roles in what he calls “arguably the best show ever.”
 
Glaser has been all over the U.S. – literally -- since graduating from NKU. He originally moved to New York, not for theater but for a job in the financial industry. Then one morning he was riding a bus on his way to work across from the World Trade Center. “I saw the first plane hit,” he says.
 
That up-close look at the 9/11 tragedy, Glaser said, made him reconsider what he wanted to do. What he wanted to do was theater.
 
He started taking parts in shows far from Broadway. That included playing villain Jud Fry in “Oklahoma!” for a light opera company. The director happened to be casting a national tour of “Annie” and Glaser hit the road.
 
“Annie” was followed by a national tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” a stint in Las Vegas in “Jubilee!” for a complete change of pace, a national tour of “Beast and the Beast,” with Glaser playing the prince cursed to be a Beast.
 
Back in New York, “the climate had changed,” and Glaser had had enough touring. He moved back to Cincinnati a year ago, joined the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus and does one or two shows a year (last spring he was in “Hello, Dolly!” at the Covedale Center) while he contemplates the next step. He’s thinking grad school and a teaching career.
 
Sweeney Todd, Aug. 8-23, The Carnegie, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington. Tickets $21-$28. 859-491-2030 and www.thecarnegie.com.
 
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts Contributor
 
Photo: Justin Glaser in Sweeney Todd/provided
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