Bodies of water are frequent metaphors in poetry, due to their unfathomable depths, unknowable sprawl, and unattainable porpoises. Glide into an enigma with today's Groupon: for $25, you get two tickets to The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: The Melodrama of Sweeney Todd, presented on Padelford Riverboats’ Centennial Showboat (up to a $50 value). This deal is valid for any performance on a Friday or Saturday night at 8 p.m. or any Saturday matinee at 2:30 p.m.
The University of Minnesota’s gifted thespians take to the stage at the Centennial Showboat’s vibrant 225-seat playhouse every summer, performing timeless plays and musicals as the vessel leisurely coasts along the Mississippi River. Culled from George Dibdin Pitt’s original 1846 penny dreadful, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: The Melodrama of Sweeney Todd tells the unsettling story of a homicidal barber and his gory quest for revenge. Under the practiced chops of directors Peter Moore and Vern Sutton, the melodrama will showcase antediluvian staging and vaudeville-style musical interludes, and audiences are encouraged to hurl boos, cheers, and headshots at the stage during the show. The venue’s air conditioning keeps actors and audience members comfy despite any hotly intense scenes, and guests can reenact their favorite lines on the showboat’s outdoor decks or in a pair of opulent Victorian reception rooms.
In 1969, the founder of Padelford Riverboats, Captain William D. Bowell, Sr., launched the Jonathan Padelford steamwheeler into the Mississippi, hoping to bring visitors to the riverfront for leisurely jaunts. After more than 30 years of expanding his fleet and ferrying passengers along the historic waterways, he handed the reigs over to his daughters and nephew. Today, the family operates five boats equipped with dance areas, bars, sun decks, and the nostalgia that William hoped to keep alive. With the Twin Cities' skyline and the rugged, green banks of the river as the backdrop, US Coast Guard–licensed vessels float passengers past sights such as Pig's Eye Cave, Fort Snelling, and Pike Island. Some cruises also include dinner or fireworks, and special holiday cruises are also available.