Okay, granted. That was an awful pun but Sweeney Todd was amazing at the Derby Theatre on Friday 21st October. And crikey, this is a delayed upload.
Sweeney Todd ranks in my top seven favourite musicals after accidentally discovering Johnny Depp as Sweeney on a Film4 preview and pretending I wasn’t watching an 18 rated film at the age of 10. (Psssst. Don’t tell my parents).
Sweeney Todd tells the tale of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Benjamin Barker returns to London having spent 15 years in exile and adopts a new alias of “Sweeney Todd” in the hope to seek revenge on Judge Turpin who, quite frankly, ruined his life. Drowning in revenge, Todd swears vengeance on everyone; murdering as many folk as possible when they come to his barber shop for a literal ‘close shave’. Widow, Mrs Lovett, bakes the bodies into pies. GO SEE IT! DON’T LET ME TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT… Run to Colchester’s Mercury Theatre, now. I’ll even let you stop reading this blog to go watch it as long as you come back later, please and thank you.
Hugh Maynard played the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and he was insanely talented. Having seen Hugh twice in Miss Saigon and already being head to toe in love with his voice, this performance left me flabbergasted (underrated word!). His Todd was incredibly menacing and threatening from the first note and he made the role his own, especially through the performance of My Friends. Though psychotic and questionably (not even questionably, definitely) evil, I couldn’t help but to feel pity through his loss of wife and daughter. Middle finger up to you, Turpin.
Sophie Louise Dann portrayed Mrs Lovett and delivered a top class comedic and yet electric performance. Her rendition of By the Sea exceeded all expectations and having gone through a phase (that lasted much longer than I’d like to admit) of playing that one song on repeat, Dann executed the wit and lust perfectly. I couldn’t imagine a better casting for the role- she completely and utterly stole the show.
Simon Shorten particularly made the show that little more special for me. I was lucky enough to catch him understudying Jean Valjean at Queens Theatre last February and he remains as one of my all time favourite actors in that role. His portrayal of Pirelli was magnifico. His vocal range as the Italian Barber was impressive and he moved between accents effortlessly providing great amounts of wit. A remarkable performance.
The entire cast were extremely phenomenal. It felt like a West End production despite it being at Derby Theatre. I will never get over the sheer amount of talent that this cast has had to offer.
We originally bought tickets for the first night at Derby Theatre however, they had technical difficulties with the stage revolve and delayed their opening night. We managed to reschedule our tickets and upgrade to front row. This was the only theatre production I’ve seen where I was grateful for it to finish despite loving the show. The set design was impressive. The revolving stage, the detail that had gone into each prop and Mrs Lovett’s Pie Shop was mesmerising but the stage was so high! I had such a crick in my neck after watching it. It was like I had spent the evening talking to the BFG!
A truly amazing production and I urge you all to see it at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre before it finishes its run.
(Featured Image by Gemma O’Brien)