Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (Photo: Chris Lee)
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (Photo: Chris Lee)

Emma Thompson leads ENO Sweeney Todd

Published September 16, 2014

Emma Thompson will return to the London stage for the first time in 25 years to star alongside Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel in musical thriller Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street at the London Coliseum next year.

The much rumoured casting was confirmed today at the home of the English National Opera where the production will play from 30 March (press night 31 March) to 12 April.

Directed by Lonny Price, Sweeney Todd’s London run follows the production’s premiere at New York’s Lincoln Center earlier this year where Thompson and Terfel first played the role of the demon barber and his pie-making sidekick.

Set in Victorian London, the Stephen Sondheim musical charts the story of the eponymous barber as he seeks vengeance on what he views as a merciless world by murdering his customers and baking them into pastry cases with the help of his landlady.

Best known for her starring roles in numerous films including Howards End, Saving Mr Banks, Sense And Sensibility and the Harry Potter series, Thompson was last seen in the West End in Judi Dench’s 1989 production of Look Back In Anger. Talking about her forthcoming return to the London stage, the Academy Award-winning actress said: “I can’t believe I am being given the opportunity to perform this extraordinary piece once again – this time with the ENO orchestra. And of course to sing with such a talent as Bryn is as good as it ever gets.”

Her co-star Terfel is renowned in opera houses around the world. He recently performed on the London stage in Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Royal Opera House, but is also well-known for taking the title roles in The Marriage Of Figaro and Falstaff. The singer, who is well-acquainted with the role of Sweeney having not only played it in New York but also in the 2002 Lyric Opera of Chicago production, said of his upcoming stage appearance: “Emma and I had a great time performing together in New York and the role itself is such a pleasure to play. I’m really looking forward to working with Emma and ENO to bring the barber to life again in London’s largest theatre.”

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street is the first in a major long-term partnership between ENO and the GradeLinnit Company, which aims to programme world class musical theatre productions. It will be conducted by David Charles Abell with orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick.

The production follows in the footsteps of another hugely successful revival of the Sondheim musical, which starred Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton, and won three Olivier Awards at the 2013 ceremony.