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Teens' necks cut during Sweeney Todd play mishap

April 7, 2016

Two teen actors in New Zealand have sustained neck wounds after a stage production about murderous barber Sweeney Todd went wholly awry. The prop razor used in the scene had been reportedly safety-checked multiple times.

A dress rehearsal of 'Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street' in Paris
Sweeney Todd plays are staged all over the world, this image is from a dress rehearsal of a Paris productionImage: Getty Images/AFP/M. Fedouach

The opening night of a student musical in New Zealand ended abruptly after two of the teenage actors were injured during a throat-cutting scene, local media reported on Thursday.

The two 16-year-old boys were taken to hospital following the accident, one with serious injuries, the other with moderate injuries.

The incident occurred at Saint Kentigern College in Auckland which was performing the grisly "Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" musical before a crowd of parents.

Australia Musical Sweeney Todd
The blunted razor prop used in the play had been wrapped in layers of tapeImage: Getty Images/P. Riviere

The Stephen Sondheim musical tells the story of English barber Sweeney Todd, a fictional Victorian character who cut his customers' throats and gives the bodies to his accomplice Mrs. Lovett, who then bakes them into meat pies.

"We are very concerned about the accident at our college musical and we are investigating the cause of this. We are pleased that both boys are in stable condition," said college head Steve Cole in a statement. The boys were reportedly released from the hospital on Thursday.

Cole also told media that the prop razor, which caused the injuries, had been blunted and wrapped in several layers of duct tape.

"It had been bound in Cellophane, bound in all sorts of things," he told radio station Newstalk ZB. "It was very non-sharp, blunted, and had been through all sorts of health and safety checks. It was a very unfortunate mishap."

"An investigation is being conducted to determine exactly what happened and ensure this does not recur," Cole said, adding that counseling was being offered to all students, including the play's cast and crew.

The college canceled Thursday night's performance of the musical, but said the show could resume on Friday.

"Obviously without those particular props," added Cole.

rs/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)