March 2011 – Sweeney Todd Review

Reviewed by Rochdale Style Magazine.
Rochdale Amateur Operatic Society had the audience on the edge of their seats, with their recent spine-tingling production of ‘Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’, directed by Michael Jones-McCaw, with Musical Direction by John Stevens.

 
Stephen Sondeim’’s popular musical is a thrilling tale of vengeance and true love, featuring some of the finest music ever written for the theatre. Set in Victorian London, it tells the infamous story of Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, who forms an enterprising business relationship with Mrs Lovett, the proprietor of the downstairs pie-shop.

 

Returning to the greedy streets of London after being wrongly exiled, Sweeney embarks upon a murderous campaign to right the wrongs he has endured, re-opening his Fleet Street barber shop and slitting the throats of his customers before they are turned into London’s tastiest pies.

 

John Wood gave an exceptional performance as Sweeney Todd and was perfectly paired with the outstanding Joanne Gill, as Mrs Lovett. The pair’s relationship was totally believable, with spot-on comic timing.

 

Claire Morris was suitably angelic as Johanna and showed off her strong vocal talents. Her knight in shining armour, Anthony, was played by the talented Gary Jones-McCaw, who also choreographed the production.

 

Superb young actor Tom Shiels stole the show as Tobias, with a beautiful rendition of ‘Not While I’m Around’, whilst David Gill was suitably creepy as Judge Turpin. Sarah Thewlis impressed with her fantastic acting skills and provided the laughs as ‘The Beggar Woman’, who of course, turned out to be Sweeney’s beloved wife.

 

Other strong performances came from Richard Sanderson as Pirelli, Peter Wakefield as Beadle Bamford and Ian Wharmby as Fogg.

 

By the end of the production, few of the cast had escaped the barber’s vengeful blade. Sweeney’s unlucky clients went straight down the trap door and into Mrs Lovett’s bakery with the audience jumping out of their seats every single time! But Sweeney himself also met a gruesome end, thanks to young Tobias who had witnessed his evil deeds.

 

The chorus never failed to impress, with fantastic numbers such as ‘The Ballad of Sweeney Todd’, ‘God That’s Good’ and ‘City On Fire’.

 

With an exciting, yet chilling score, a highly talented cast, strong chorus, spectacular scenery and a live orchestra, Rochdale Amateur’s production was certainly a thrilling night at the theatre.

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