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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

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At the start of the Opera Locos performance, the announcement says that they really are singing. You could be forgiven for wondering that, given the amplification turns up the backing track and the voices so loud that you can't always tell what's real. But this is a mostly harmless and slightly eccentric blend of opera classics fused with the occasional pop classic. However, recognising the pop tunes would help if you were over a certain age. The most recent of them dates back twenty years. It's currently playing at the Peacock Theatre .  Five performers play out a variety of archetype opera characters. There's the worn-out tenor (Jesús Álvarez), the macho baritone (Enrique Sánchez-Ramos), the eccentric counter-tenor (Michaël Kone), the dreamy soprano (María Rey-Joly) and the wild mezzo-soprano (Mayca Teba). Since my singing days, I haven't recognised these types of performers. However, once, I recall a conductor saying he wanted no mezzo-sopranos singing with the s

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 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 interpretation Imelda Staunton gives as Mrs Lovett, the woman who owns the pie shop below Sweeney Todd's barbershop. 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 a 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 has 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 it's far back enough so you can think it is all just tomato sauce...

Boo musings with @johnnyfoxlondon follow...

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