Sweeney Todd

Tue 5th – Sat 9th February 2013

reviews

Michelle Newbold

at 23:22 on 5th Feb 2013

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Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter are a hard act to follow, yet tonight Durham Musical Theatre Company offered an interpretation which was both fresh and entertaining. By far the best aspect of the evening was the outstanding performances given by every cast member. Anthony Smith was perfectly cast as Sweeney Todd; he perfected the character’s broad range of emotions from desperate grief to frightening madness with ease. Smith’s singing voice was equally strong as his acting, and his performances of ‘My Friends’ and ‘Epiphany’ were highlights of the show. Mrs Lovett was equally well cast, as Eileen Glenton portrayed both the amusing wit and sinister cruelty of her character brilliantly. Catherine Marsdon’s Johanna was outstanding, and her rendition of ‘Green Finch and Linnet Bird’ – perhaps the most challenging song of the original score – was note-perfect. In fact, I preferred Marsdon’s live performance to that of Jayne Wisener in the Burton film. Andy King’s portrayal of Anthony Hope was equally convincing, and he carried off the character’s multiple harmonies well.

On the whole, the songs were performed excellently by every cast member. By far the best musical number of the evening was Smith and Glenton’s duet of ‘A Little Priest’. The leading actors carried off the number’s black humour perfectly, and the audience laughed along at their sinister plotting. The orchestra also deserves a mention here, as their dramatic renditions of the songs supported the cast well.

The set was much more elaborate than I have been used to seeing in student productions, and it was used to good effect. Sweeney Todd’s chair was particularly effective, as his victims slid down through a trapdoor and out of sight. Overall the set was very cleverly designed and used, as it allowed for numerous scenes to be situated on its various levels, and required minimal stage-changes between scenes. The only criticism I have of this highly professional production was that the chorus was potentially too large. In certain scenes I counted around forty cast members onstage at one time, and although this made for energetic background singing, at times it distracted from the central action. This was particularly the case in ‘God that’s Good’ and ‘The Contest’, where it was difficult to distinguish the main actors from the numerous chorus members crowding them.

Overall, Sweeney Todd was an excellent production, with professional acting, singing and stage direction. At £17.50 per ticket and with no student discount, it may be a little out of the average student’s price range, but if you’re feeling flush this week I couldn't recommend a better way to spend your extra cash.

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Comments

Florence Strickland; 7th Feb 2013; 18:31:09

From Durham Musical Theatre Company: Just to say that there are student discounts available. All tickets have been reduced by £5 for students, so that you pay £12.50 per ticket.

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