Friday, 13 February 2015

Leeds Youth Opera's Sweeney Todd

 Image Credit:  Carriageworks
(Accessed from

The audience is invited to their seats and get a glimpse of life during Victorian London,  It is acknowledged that life is tough; evident with the activity that is happening on stage before the show begins.  Sweeney Todd, a Sondheim musical and based on Hugh Wheeler's book, premiered in Broadway and under the original direction of Harold Prince.  This amateur production is produced by Leeds Youth Opera and directed by Anita Adams

Sweeney Todd,  played by Jonny Lindsay, is certainly a complex character and a victim of miscarriage of justice returned to London after serving his time in Australia.  Only to learn that his wife is supposedly dead and his daughter, Johanna, is the ward of the corrupted Judge Turpin.  Mrs Lovett, played by Gemma Beck, schemes with Todd by convincing him to open a Barber Shop above her pie shop.

What is admirable about this production is that it is flowed smoothly from beginning to end; when the cast ensemble congregating on stage before the opening of the first act to after the closure of the second act.  There is no sudden stoppage between the acts with some continuation of the show happening at the interval and also when the show finishes.

The props and staging are used effectively and no space is left unattended.  Some members of the cast where masks which symbolises the musical's darkness and links well with Sondheim's intricate and dramatic musical score and lyrics under the direction of  Tom Newall.  Despite some technical issues in the first act the performance was a success and explores the social issues that were relevant in the Victorian times such as poverty, social hierarchy and the misuse of power and so on...only for Sweeney Todd to seek revenge to justify what he himself had to suffer.

A heartfelt performance from the cast and support from its creative team.  Sweeney Todd is playing at Leeds Carriageworks until Saturday 14th February 2015.

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