Review by Jody Miller
A Dark and Thrilling Masterpiece, Sweeney Todd – The Musical
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
A Musical Thriller
22 July – 27 August 2023
Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award®-winning musical thriller, Sweeney Todd, starring Ben Mingay (Shrek the Musical, Frayed, Pirates of Penzance, Packed to the Rafters) and Antoinette Halloran (Mary and Max, Macbeth, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll), directed by celebrated Australian opera and musical theatre director Stuart Maunder AM – this is a musical theatre thriller you don’t want to miss.
Sweeney Todd – The Musical at the Sydney Opera House is a theatrical experience that is nothing short of spectacular. This dark and thrilling masterpiece, directed with utmost brilliance by Stuart Maunder AM, brings the haunting tale of vengeance and despair to life in a way that leaves the audience mesmerised.
Set in the dark and grungy streets of London, the production immediately immerses you in its atmospheric world. The stage design is a marvel in itself, with wooden structures and brick walls that effortlessly transform from London streets to the gloomy, blood-stained barber shop and pie store. The clever use of lighting and shadows designed by Philip Lethlean adds to the eerie ambiance, evoking a sense of foreboding that grips you from the opening scene. Costume design by Roger Kirk AM was nothing short of exceptional, capturing the essence of the show and easily transforming the cast into different characters.
The heart of the musical lies in its exceptional cast, and they deliver performances that are nothing short of phenomenal. The title role of Sweeney Todd is portrayed by Ben Mingay, whose vocal prowess and emotional depth bring this complex character to life with chilling intensity. His journey from a broken man seeking revenge to a ruthless barber seeking justice is both haunting and sympathetic.
Equally compelling is Antoinette Halloran as Mrs. Lovett, the eccentric pie shop owner with a secret. Her portrayal of the character is a perfect blend of wit, charm, and madness, and her chemistry with Sweeney is electric. The scenes between the two are captivating, showcasing their twisted alliance in a way that is oddly endearing.
The supporting cast also deserves high praise for their exceptional performances. From the innocent but determined Johanna, played by Ashleigh Rubenach, to the vengeful and obsessive Judge Turpin, portrayed by Dean Vince, each member of the ensemble brings immense talent and grit to the stage, elevating the production to new heights.
Crowd favourites were Jeremi Campese as Tobias Ragg and Margaret Trubiano as Beggar Woman. Campese showed strength and certainty while revealing a vulnerable and exposed character played with sincerity. Trubiano presented outstanding vocals which flowed through the audience, and portrayed a comedic and fierce version of the Beggar, although it was the audience left begging for more.
The musical numbers, composed by Stephen Sondheim, are a testament to his genius. The orchestra, under the baton of Simon Holt, flawlessly captures the essence of Sondheim’s score, adding an ethereal layer to the already mesmerising performances.
Sweeney Todd – The Musical, presented by Sydney Opera House is a theatrical triumph that leaves an indelible mark on its audience. It is a testament to the power of storytelling, music, and exceptional performances, combining to create an unforgettable experience. If you have the opportunity to witness this extraordinary production, do not miss it. But be prepared to be enthralled and disturbed by this dark and thrilling masterpiece.
Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is playing till the 27th of August 2023 at the Sydney Opera House.
Signor Pirelli/Jonas Fogg
Rachael Cunningham, Jarrod Griffiths, Michaela Leisk, Katie McKee, Jessica Mills, Joshua Robson, Anna Stephens, Louis Vinciguerra, Elias Wilson.