Mount Holly actor bids adieu

by Alan Hodge

Mount Holly resident and veteran performer Steven Jepson will star in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” this weekend at Central Piedmont Community College.

When the curtain goes up on Friday, Feb. 11, at Central Piedmont Community College’s Halton Theatre for the college’s first run of the musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” Mount Holly resident and veteran performer Steven Jepson will take center stage. He portrays the title character, a sinister Victorian London barber who teams up with a baker to kill and cook their victims into pies.

“The CPCC production will be as close to Broadway as you can get,” Jepson said. “The Halton Theatre has always presented excellent shows and this one will be no exception.”

According to Jepson, even the stage is up to Broadway standards.

“It is a large, moveable set with a barber shop on one side and pie shop on the other,” Jepson said. “As the scenes require, it is rotated to face the audience. It took a lot of lumber and ingenuity to construct.”

Portraying a razor-wielding murderer who makes pies from human flesh is a role Jepson, whose background in musical theater has taken him all over the world, can really sink his teeth into.

Originally from Coralville, Iowa, Jepson came to Mount Holly in 2005 with his wife, Loretta, when her employer transferred her to the Charlotte area. After looking for a place to settle down, Jepson said it didn’t take them long to fall in love with their Riverfront Parkway home on the Catawba River just downstream from Mount Holly.

“It’s a nice oasis,” he said.

Along with the house, Jepson quickly found a home away from home with Gaston School of the Arts, where he has worked as a teacher, performer and consultant. He also has produced shows there, including the Gilbert and Sullivan hits “The Pirates of Penzance” and “The Mikado.” His work introducing students to musicals is one of the highlights of his experience there, he said.

“It’s really nice to see them enjoy Gilbert and Sullivan,” Jepson said. “Though it may sound trite, my fondest memories of living here will be making a difference in the lives of kids who might not have looked at music as a profession. I’ve seen some that will go on to great careers.”

In addition to his work with youth, Jepson also has had an impact on the local musical scene, through his involvement at the Gaston Choral Society as well as a performance of a Mass in jazz tempo by Dave Brubek that was seen at Belmont Abbey. He also has worked with Opera Carolina.

Though the Jepsons are fond of their light and airy home on a Catawba River cove, changes in Loretta Jepson’s job situation will require them to leave the area in August when Steven Jepson returns to the University of Iowa to finish his Doctorate in Voice. Their daughter, Katie, currently is a student there studying voice and elementary education.

“We have enjoyed living in Mount Holly and North Carolina, especially the proximity to the mountains and coast,” Jepson said. “But we have a place in our hearts for the Midwest. I think I’ll go back home.”

Sadly, the CPCC production of “Sweeney Todd” will be Jepson’s last time on a local stage before going back to Iowa, but thankfully, audiences will once more get to enjoy his talent and love of the theater before the actor heads west.

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