Local News

Auckland schoolchildren injured in Sweeney Todd play

A production of Sweeney Todd became frighteningly realistic at an Auckland high school last night, after two students were injured onstage.
Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd

Investigations are underway at a prestigious Auckland school after two students were cut with a prop razor wrapped in duct tape during a theater performance.

St John Ambulance Service confirmed two people were injured at St Kentigern’s College in Pakuranga just after 9pm on Wednesday.

The two 16-year-old boys were taken to Auckland Hospital with what witnesses have described as “cuts to the neck” following the opening night of the musical Sweeney Todd. One of the boys was described as being in a serious condition.

St Kentigern College head Steve Cole described it as an “unfortunate and isolated incident”.

He told TVNZ the razor was “a prop that was covered in all sorts of duct tape and silver paper, this had been done numerable times during rehearsals, numerable times even during the show.

“It was a razor that you would expect to see in a production of Sweeney Todd. But it didn’t have a sharp edge. I’m very confident that the health and safety situation was strong,” he said.

“It was an unfortunate isolated incident.”

He said while it was not unusual for schools to use props like this – and that the razor’s edge had been filed down and bound – in hindsight it may have been a better idea to eliminate all risk. But Mr Cole said the drama students involved had been adamant the play look at authentic as possible.

“It 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.

“It was deemed important to make it as realistic as possible.”

Staff at the private school are now investigating exactly what happened.

“Our priority is to support the boys and their families, along with the rest of the cast and crew,” Head of College Steve Cole said in a statement.

“We are distressed about what happened last night and are conducting a thorough investigation.

“We are pleased that both boys are in a stable condition and have been talking with both their families.”

The remaining performances of the production have been cancelled.

An eyewitness said the audience were not told an an accident had happened and that the blood seen on stage was not fake.

“No announcements were made to the audience that the throat slitting was not all just ‘fake blood’, the show went on, we never knew anything about the real blood being spilt until later,” the audience member told Fairfax Media.

Sweeney Todd documents the tale of a barber by the same name, who kills his victims using a barber’s blade. Mrs Lovett, who owns the pie shop downstairs, then turns the victims into meat pies.

It has not been confirmed if the children were injured during one of the violent barber’s blade scenes or when the exited the stage through a trap door.

A spokesperson for the hospital said both boys were in a stable condition on Thursday morning.

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