Let the blood run free musical: Sweeney Todd



Stephen Sondheim's Grand Guignol musical-opera Sweeney Todd is back in the West End. This time it is with the versatile (and somewhat unrecognisable) Michael Ball in the title role and Imelda Staunton as Mrs Lovett, his partner in crime. The tale has been told in many forms, and the last time it was on the West End was in John Doyle's wonderfully claustrophobic production where the cast doubled as the orchestra. This time around, this Chichester Festival transfer provides a slightly more traditional staging of the production with a grand set, huge sounding orchestra and elaborate set pieces. Of course it is still probably Victorian London as the story does not make sense in any other period, but you could be forgiven with the odd car, costuming and set decoration that it could also be the 1930s...


Anachronisms aside, what makes this show a thrill is the wonderful interpretation Imelda Staunton gives as Mrs Lovett, the woman who owns the pie shop below Sweeney Todd's barber shop. If you ever wondered what Vera Drake the musical could be like you get a sense of it here. She gives the material a fresh perspective with a combination of matter of fact EastEnder-ness and brilliant comic timing. Also worthy of a mention is James McConville in the role of the boy Tobias who manages not only to sing very nicely but also pull off some difficult crowd scenes while singing Sondheim's notoriously elaborate music...

The cast have a great time, and by the end of it many in the audience were on their feet applauding. Mind you there was someone behind me who was a bit squeamish about blood... I wondered if they thought they were going to Matilda... It's now playing at the Adelphi Theatre on The Strand. Sweeney Todd tickets available at the usual outlets, and the Dress Circle seats are excellent for taking it all in... And if you're too squeamish its far back enough so you can think it is all just tomato sauce...

Boo musings with @johnnyfoxlondon follow...

Popular posts from this blog

Opera and full frontal nudity: Rigoletto

Opera: The Minotaur

More comings and goings: F*cking Men @KingsHeadThtr