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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

Published 2 April 2015

What’s it all about?

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, of course. Stephen Sondheim’s disturbing musical is the tale of cold-blooded, razor-wielding killer driven by revenge and a despairing view of humanity. Sound dark? It is, but it also has a deliciously macabre wit to jolly it along.

Who’s in it?

Emma Flippin Thompson, that’s who!

She’s not playing Sweeney, of course, though I wouldn’t put it beyond her. No, that honour goes to Welsh operatic star Bryn Terfel – whose Sweeney also hails from the valleys – who’s a bullish barber; a physical and vocally intimidating anti-hero.

Big screen star Thompson, returning to the London stage for the first time in a quarter of a century, plays his manic wildcat of a sidekick Mrs Lovett. It’s a performance of comic perfection.

Around the iconic central pairing, English National Opera has filled the supporting roles with performers who would normally lead West End productions. Former Phantom John Owen Jones is brilliant as a camply perturbed Pirelli. Previous Olivier Award nominee Alex Gaumond is a creeping, goosebump-inducing Beadle Bamford. I could go on, but suffice to say this is extravagant casting that makes the production a vocal treat.

What should I look out for?

The opening five minutes of the production that brings revolution to the idea of a semi-staged concert show.

Rosalie Craig’s tick-heavy, show-stealing cameo appearances as the Beggar Woman. Phenomenal.

In a nutshell?

An extravagant meaty treat of a Sweeney with no dubious filling at all.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@unknownbside Do what ever you can to see Sweeney Todd @ The Coliseum. Emma Thompson, @Bryn_Terfel, and the cast killed it! #ENOSweeney

@MaryGNguyen Overall, a production that’s every ounce the hype.The wait was worthwhile.Well done cast, crew&orchestra #ENOSweeney

Will I like it?

Have I mentioned how ridiculously impressive the cast’s vocal talents are?

Add that to Sondheim’s incredible music and lyrics so witty and perfectly formed they floor you like a swift swing of a razor.

Placing the full ENO Orchestra centre stage makes it difficult as an audience member to lose yourself in Victorian London and build the dark, oppressive, ominous atmosphere that brings Sweeney Todd to life. But the pay off to this concession is a production of outstanding musical virtuosity.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street runs at the London Coliseum until 12 April. You can book tickets from the theatre’s website.


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