Preview: Sweeney Todd

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An exhilarating new reprisal of Stephen Sondheim’s famous musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, comes to Keble’s O’Reilly Theatre in 5th week. And according to the sneak preview I was afforded, this is a production that shouldn’t be missed.

I expect everyone knows the terrifying urban myth of Sweeney Todd, but for those who don’t this musical recounts the gory tale of a London barber seeking revenge against a corrupt Judge. Todd returns to London after fifteen
years, having endured transportation, and finds that his wife has been raped by the very Judge who condemned him, an act which has led to her suicide. Joining forces with the local pie-maker Mrs Lovett, who would like to be more than friends, Todd seeks retribution with the steely edge of his razor.

Production company Milk & Two Sugars are going all out in their rendering of this grotesque but compelling yarn, claiming to be the first major show to use a revolving stage at the O’Reilly, whilst a live orchestra will be interpreting
Sondheim’s renowned score under the considered direction of conductor Peter Elliot. 

Luke Rollason, fresh from roles last year in successes including Rope and Judgement at Nuremberg, turns his hand to directing and has assembled an impressively well-drilled, highly musical cast with considerable depth.
In particular, the sinister and beguiling relationship between Andy Laithwaite and Helena Wilson in the lead roles of Todd and Mrs Lovett will be worth the entrance fee alone, as their excellent vocals complement the air of frustration, desire, and delusion which conjures the tension constantly permeating their dialogue.

Putting on a musical of this renown is certainly not an easy task, but on the basis of the latter stages of rehearsal, this company promise to deliver a thrill ride from start to finish, which will also ask the audience some unsettling
questions about the nature of revenge and justice.

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