Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Oct. 5, 7 and 9
The Tony-award winning show features the murderous thrills and machinations of the vengeful English barber, his accommodating landlady and a colorful cast of characters from 19th century London. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler.
Russell Andrade and the rest of the cast of Sweeney Todd will perform at the Palladium Theater in downtown St. Petersburg. For tickets, visit the St. Petersburg Opera website.
Like the main character in the musical Sweeney Todd, Russell Andrade finds himself returning to the place he calls home after several years away. But, thankfully, that is where the similarities end for Andrade and the fictional butcher barber.
Andrade, 32, a St. Petersburg College alumnus and St. Petersburg Opera Emerging Artist, will perform the cover role of Beadle Bamford, a pompous public official whose loyalty is to a corrupt judge, in St. Petersburg Opera’s Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Palladium Theater.
Born in Dubai but of Portuguese descent, he came to the U.S. to work as a computer engineer in Ohio, but his heart wasn’t in it. In 1999, he decided to enroll at St. Petersburg College because he wanted to be closer to his grandmother who lived about two blocks from the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus.
Wanting to become a classical guitarist, Andrade began studying with Instructor Joe Braccio and also began taking voice lessons with former Instructor Ronald Billingsley. But his plans of becoming a classical guitarist came to a halt the following year when he suffered nerve damage to his hands in a car accident. He turned his attention to singing and joined the college’s chorus and musical theater.
In hindsight, Andrade looks at the car accident as an unusual blessing.
“There are a number of reasons why it’s great,” said the lyric tenor. “The fact is I’m a far better singer than I ever was a guitar player, and the accident helped me to focus on my voice.”
“There’s a sensation you get when you sing and you sing well, when you sing without effort,” he said. “It’s kind of a high. It just makes you feel euphoric.”
“I feel sorry for the computer engineers who never get to know what it is like.”
After graduating from SPC in 2003, Andrade earned Bachelor of Music degrees in vocal performance and music composition from the University of Georgia. He also completed graduate work in arts administration at Florida State University.
Since his time at SPC, Andrade has performed as a recital soloist with the Vermont Philharmonic and the Northwinds Symphonic Band, as well as in the chorus of the Atlanta Opera, along with many other gigs. He has received several awards, including the 2006 Metropolitan Opera Encouragement Award for the Atlanta District, as well as the Bel Canto Institute Performance and Orchestral Performance awards.
Andrade is excited to set foot on stage in SPC’s Palladium Theater and to again be doing something in the area.
“St. Pete College has impacted my life a lot,” he said. “I still have pride in SPC because it’s done so much for me.
Though he resides in Lawrenceville, Ga., he tries to remain active with the college. In January 2010, Andrade performed a recital at the St. Petersburg College Music Center to raise funds for the Earlene and Marvin Tiehaara Endowed Music Scholarship in honor of his late SPC piano teacher, Marvin, and his late wife.
“To this day, I still have more contacts from SPC than I’ve got from grad school or the University of Georgia,” he said. “Everyone just became friends with everyone, and that really makes a difference.”