Jonah Munroe has established himself on DFW stages in comedic roles. Now Lyric Stage gives him a dramatic turn in Sweeney Todd.

Actor Jonah Munroe levels up to the lead in Lyric’s ‘Sweeney Todd’

RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer

Actor Jonah Munroe has been gracing DFW stages professionally since 2016. But it took a pandemic to charge his career with a new outlook. Since 2021, Munroe says this chapter has allowed him to grow in a new way — a way that has led to the lead in Lyric Stage’s Sweeney Todd.

“It has been nice and interesting getting to start over,” he said. “We’re still emerging from the pandemic, and endemic, really, but as creators, we are also getting out from under that.”

In 2023, Munroe seemed to be everywhere — from Stage West to Lyric and Uptown Players. Then he kicked off this year with a big role in Theatre Three’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

Recent roles have been more comedic or upbeat, which suits his acting style where he’s prone to flourish with his hulking physicality that is also light in step. His comic timing is sharp and clever.

But all that’s gone for the moment.

“Stepping into this role [in Sweeney Todd], I really had to switch gears. The material is so dense and dark,” Munroe said. “This is the fifth show I’ve worked on with the director, so that’s been helpful. There’s no real levity to Sweeney, so I had to choose to step into that and see it from the side of Benjamin Barker.”

The show was directed by Michael Serrecchia and runs through April 7.

Munroe said he had to dig deep into the character, but he started with Barker who ultimately becomes Sweeney Todd. That was his entryway into the character’s humanity.

“I had to approach it from grief. He’s hell bent on revenge for what happened to his family. So with his grief, he’s lost his way and that’s been my way of creating his backstory but to also give him a human, softer side,” he said.

The Stephen Sondheim musical centers on Sweeney Todd, a barber in 1800s London, whose rage has turned him into a serial killer right out of his shop. His counterpart, Mrs. Lovett, has subsequently grown her meat pie business thanks to all the fresh beefcake Todd is slicing up.

At the heart of it all, Todd is seeking revenge on one who he feels is responsible for the ruination of his family.

Having just celebrated his 30th birthday, the queer-identifying actor has been padding his resume with role after role in DFW. But he almost said no to this lead role.

“There is a lot going on with this role,” he said. “I honestly just wasn’t sure of myself. I knew that’s a big role, but then I realized something.”

What was that something he realized? That All his previous roles were leading to this moment. Because in his eyes, it was the universe challenging him and his talents once again.

Plus, the Lyric Stage team — who he’s worked with before — convinced him they’d have his back. The team was already sure of Munroe. So what it all boiled down to was him getting onboard with himself.

“The director and the team trusted me. And I’ve leaned on Music Director Hans Grim a lot with the singing. It’s such a hard role, and it’s humbled me. But I’ve taken this challenge in, and I knew I could do it.”

A cherry on top for Munroe is the representation he gets to bring to the musical.

“I am glad to give a Black Sweeney Todd this time,” he said. “I love that Lyric gives access and allows for people to have that room. And they do it organically.”

He even likes the guy who kills at will with his trusty razor.

“I do,” he admitted. “It took me a second, but I started with his original identifier as Benjamin Barker, who was this barber who minded his own business. Sweeney is the exact opposite, so there’s this dissociative identity disorder.

“In this scenario, Hyde takes over — only he’s Sweeney. It’s been fascinating to explore him that way.”

At the time of this interview, Munroe was heading into the show’s second weekend. He felt settled after a big opening weekend that was sold out, with the second weekend almost at capacity, too.

“Opening weekend was a whirlwind but in a good way. I had to let the show become what it is, and now I can enjoy myself with the rest of the run,” Munroe said.

For tickets, visit