Sweeney Todd

sweeney todd brisbaneThe demon barber of Fleet Street joins forces with a pie-baker to seek revenge and boost business in London of 1765 as Sweeny Todd slices and sings his way onto the stage in Brisbane.

This quality amateur production smacks of professionalism. While shocking and gruesome, the show was tastefully put together and was all class.
Sweeny Todd goes for almost three hours including a 20-minute interval. Although it could have been cut back, the cast never let the energy level drop and held my interest until the end.

Todd returns to the harsh streets of London under a false name after years of banishment ordered by the town’s Judge Turpin. Hearing of his wife’s demise and his daughter’s detention at the Judge’s home, he takes on Mrs Lovett’s suggestion to re-open his “tonsorial” parlour above her pie shop. Plotting his revenge, the expert barber hopes to give the Judge ‘the closest shave he’ll ever have’.

Human pie is a grisly move in times when meat is scarce, but the kitties are quick, and Mrs Lovett prefers to save waste by baking Sweeny Todd’s many pie-meat victims.

Director Rodney Wolff has orchestrated a very tidy performance of this musical thriller, emulating a professional show. The vibrant and quick atmosphere is balanced with a side of humour as the dark and tragic Sweeny Todd tale evolves. The large team behind the production that shaped the set, lighting and costumes gave the show its vibrancy, which was tied together and lit by Wolff’s vision.

Shane Rodwell’s elaborate set was obviously solid enough to platform the robust performances. Walls weren’t wobbling, nor were props faulting, like they sometimes do in amateur productions. Tom Dodds used clever and artistic lighting to complement the musical pieces. Dodds was also responsible for sound which subtly projected the actors’ voices without overpowering the small theatre. Wardrobe manager Angela Ponting successfully pulled off the dirty streets of London blending costume colours against the set. It was all these elements teamed with brilliant live music and energetic performers with talented singing voices that made this show a spectacle.

Alice Barbery was a standout with her strong singing voice as the delightfully devious and quirky Mrs Lovett. The character is certainly a fun one to play and Barbery took to it with fervour. Jack Bradford was quiet and thoughtful as Sweeny Todd, which worked well against Barbery. Their duets were always entertaining and although Bradford’s singing voice was not as strong as the others he controlled it well and used it to give Todd a brooding feel.
The beggar woman played by Megan Crocombe was a great feature character. Hunched over with matted hair and a gravely voice she lurched around the set as an eerie and mysterious old crone.

James Gauci, who plays sailor Anthony, had a beautiful singing voice. Bekki Adams as Johanna was a perfect match with Gauci, and together they were the unspoiled young couple; a representation of purity in the dark thriller. Adams was a Scarlett Johansson look-alike with porcelain skin and blonde, curly hair.

A strong chorus carried some of the best musical pieces of the night, and the live orchestra back stage were key in giving the show punch. Music director Geoff Secomb and vocal director Nick Hollamby steered the performers to a professional level.

If you love musicals or if you just love paying amateur ticket prices for a professional theatre experience, get along to this one.

Until August 8. Bookings: www.oztix.com.au.

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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