A Demon Barber…

Sweeney Todd

Mercury Theatre, Colchester

This has to be one of my favourite stage musicals; a real winner by Stephen Sondheim.  ‘The demon barber of Fleet Street’ tells the tale of Sweeney Todd who is persuaded to go back to his love of being a barber, based over Mrs Lovett’s pie shop (the ideal venue/business for disposing of dead bodies!).  He is haunted by his lost love, Lucy, and their daughter, Johanna, so upon hearing that Johanna is being held captive as Judge Turpin’s ward of court, he sets out to finally be reunited with her, with the help of her suitor, Anthony.

A fourteen-strong cast covered all the parts superbly; the highlight for me being Sophie-Louise Dann as Mrs Lovett.  With her opening number I wasn’t convinced about her voice, but soon warmed to her and was suitably won over by the end of the show; some fantastic acting, singing and comic timing, throughout a very long show (3 hrs).

The set/design worked wonderfully well; huge congratulations to the set designer and his/her team.  The revolving nature of the main set created superb snapshots of the on-stage action and, along with the lighting, made for some very special moments.

The opening organ music was maybe too loud and violent for some of the audience, most of whom jumped out of their seats with the first few notes; it was certainly a very clear indication that the production had started!  Other than that, the small live band did a fantastic job with some hugely difficult orchestrations and Sondheim songs.

This show runs until Saturday 12th November at The Mercury Theatre, Colchester; well worth a trip down the A12, but not for the faint-hearted… lots of stage blood and ‘sausage-meat’ for the pies!