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Previewed 10 March 2012, Opened 20 March 2012, Closed 22 September 2012 at the Adelphi Theatre in London
A major revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd in London starring Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton.
Please note: Parental guidance is recommended - suggested age 12 plus.
"Sondheim calls this musical 'a movie for the stage', and that's how Jonathan Kent directs it: a riveting, close-up thriller in a scrap-iron cylinder... Michael Ball's brooding Sweeney lives on queasy memories; only anger can fire his eyes. Imelda Staunton's glinting Nellie Lovett is a tiny parasite, feeding on Todd's hulking fury and caressing his extremities. She pops toffees into his maw as if to placate a smouldering volcano. Staunton's every atom is engaged: it's an incandescent performance. Sondheim writes leery harmonies and nervescraping chords, for people who croon love songs to lunatics and razors. The company sink their teeth into this savoury masterwork until the juices drip down their chins." The Sunday Times
"It's no surprise that Jonathan Kent's production of this bloody tale of the demon barber of Fleet Street and his pie-making accomplice is razor-sharp and piping-hot. It was drenched with critical praise when it opened in Chichester last autumn, and its thrillingly elaborate London is every bit as good as that original was cracked up to be... This production is blessed with two of Britain's finest stage talents at the peak of their game.... [Micheal Ball] shows jaw-dropping versatility as Sweeney Todd... Perhaps even eclipsing him is Imelda Staunton, as Sweeney's amoral side-kick Mrs Lovett... she brings a note of perfectly judged, endlessly inventive comedy to almost everything she does here... I can't remember such a potent mix of comedy, suspense, horror and raw tradedy all packaged up into one perfect theatrical night out." The Daily Express
"In this transfer from Chichester it is staged and sung and acted with verve. Professionalism at every turn. A top band. For all this showmanship, the nastiness overwhelms. Vindictive barber Todd and his accomplice Mrs Lovett turn innocent (and some not so innocent) victims into meat pies... I left the Adelphi impressed but sickened. Sweeney Todd is a dark night... Director Jonathan Kent delivers spectacle. The whole thing is done with artistic oompf. But my neighbour, in her late 40s, repeatedly hid behind her hands and children will be given nightmares." The Daily Mail
"If you think you know Michael Ball, think again. The popular lyric baritone is almost unrecognisable as the demon barber of Fleet Street, the pale-skinned psychopath whose murderous passions are the dark heart of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical. It's a chilling performance, sinister and saturnine... Alongside him as Mrs Lovett, Imelda Staunton is more than the perfect foil. At times, in fact, she threatens to steal the show... Sondheim's varied, complex score is intelligently served; musical director Nicholas Skillbeck has achieved a nicely balanced sound... This is an atmospheric Sweeney Todd, an unsettling musical thriller made razor-sharp by its two superb leads." The London Evening Standard
"One test of a true work of art is that it is open to multiple possibilities... Jonathan Kent's production, which has now transferred from Chichester, and which leaves me grasping for superlatives, has given the piece a fresh look without destroying its essential fabric... Kent's chief achievement is to heighten the violent shifts of tone in Sondheim's masterly music and lyrics and in Hugh Wheeler's book... Michael Ball presents us with a skilled barber nursing a private grievance, who only gradually turns into a demonic serial killer. Instead of playing the end from the beginning, Ball charts every stage of Sweeney's descent... Imelda Staunton, with equal command, plays Mrs Lovett as a pinafored loner whose residual moral sense is quickly overcome by her love of profit and lust for Sweeney." The Guardian
Sweeney Todd in London at the Adelphi Theatre previewed from 10 March 2012, opened on 20 March 2012 and closed on 22 September 2012 (no performances from 30 July to 11 August).
Sweeney Todd - John Doyle 2004 Revival
Musical by Stephen Sondheim with book by Hugh Wheeler, from an adaptation by Christopher Bond. Directed and designed by John Doyle.
This new production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical is presented by the Watermill Theatre’s company of actor-musicians and comes into the West End following a successful regional tour.
"There is no pit orchestra and the musical accompaniment is provided by the actors. Their sheer virtuosity and dexterity - all of them are constantly on the move, playing or singing throughout the show - is the most impressive aspect of the production. At one point, the mighty-lunged Karen Mann (as Mrs Lovett) sings and accompanies herself on the trumpet with the odd spare breath. The ensemble playing is very strong, yet that's what the cast remains: an ensemble. True, Mann wrung the maximum comic effect from her ghoulish role, and Sam Kenyon's wraith-like Tobias radiated intensity, yet there was no real star on stage; no one I couldn't take my eyes off. Which brings me to Paul Hegarty's leather-jacketed Sweeney Todd. It's a strong-voiced, muscular performance, tilted well away from the grotesque, but what's missing is any sense of the audience's delighted complicity in his crimes. It's difficult to thrill to this Sweeney; he's not so much the embodiment of our darkest fears and desires as a rather cross and unlucky man." The Independent on Sunday
"Since 1979, Stephen Sondheim's musical journey to the dark side of early Victorian London has become a classic, performed both at the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House. But never has his miraculous music-theatre been presented more inventively than here, where the cast are not only good actors and strong singers, but also serve as their own orchestra. In recent years, working out of the tiny Watermill Theatre in Newbury, the director John Doyle and his arranger Sarah Travis have developed a distinct genre, using actor/ players, player/actors that, when it works, as it does triumphantly here, becomes a renewed form of melodrama... The acting-singing-playing is not just a trick, for it makes the nine-strong cast a genuine ensemble." The Sunday Times
Sweeney Todd in London at the Trafalgar Studios previewed from 22 July 2004, opened 27 July 2004 and closed on 9 October 2004, transferred to the Ambassadors Theatre from 13 October 2004 to 5 February 2005