NZ pupils' throats cut for real in Sweeney Todd play mishap

Wellington - Two pupils at an exclusive New Zealand school were hospitalised with neck wounds when a production of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" became all too real, officials said Thursday.

The 16-year-old boys were taking part in the musical about a murderous barber who slits his victims' throats with a straight razor when they were hurt on Wednesday night, the New Zealand Herald said.

The St John Ambulance Service told the newspaper the boys received "cuts to the neck", with one sustaining serious injuries and the other's condition listed as moderate.

"We believe it was a performance of some description that went wrong," a spokeswoman said after the pair were taken to Auckland Hospital.

Saint Kentigern's head of college Steve Cole said the school was "distressed" and offering counselling to all students, including the play's cast and crew.

"We have been talking with both injured students and their families and are pleased to report that the boys are in a stable condition and likely to be discharged today," he said in a statement.

"An investigation is being conducted to determine exactly what happened and ensure this does not recur." In the meantime, he said the production had been suspended.

New Zealand's employment safety watchdog WorkSafe said it was looking into the incident.

"The initial notification to WorkSafe advised that two boys had received neck injuries while enacting a scene in a musical production," it said in a statement.

The Saint Kentigern website describes the Stephen Sondheim musical as "notoriously difficult to produce".