Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Broadway Reviews

A reviews round-up for the new Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, starring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford.

Josh Groban (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) plays Sweeney Todd in the musical, with Annaleigh Ashford (Sunday in the Park with George, Kinky Boots) as Mrs. Lovett.

Other cast include Jordan Fisher (Dear Evan Hansen) as Anthony, Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things) as Tobias, Tony Award winner Ruthie Ann Miles (The King & I) as Beggar Woman, Maria Bilbao (Evita) as Johanna, Jamie Jackson (Doctor Zhivago) as Judge Turpin, John Rapson (Les Miserables) as Beadle Bamford, Nicholas Christopher (Hamilton) as Pirelli / Standby for Sweeney Todd, and Jeanna de Waal (Diana The Musical) as Standby for Mrs. Lovett and Beggar Woman.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is directed by Tony Award-winner Thomas Kail (Hamilton), and the show’s creative team also includes Tony winner Alex Lacamoire as Music Supervisor, Olivier Award winner Steven Hoggett as choreographer, set design by Tony Award winner Mimi Lien, costume design by Tony Award nominee Emilio Sosa, lighting design by seven-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz, sound design by Tony Award winner Nevin Steinberg, casting is by The Telsey Office, with general management by Baseline Theatrical, and Cody Renard Richard as Production Stage Manager.

The show boasts music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, a book by Hugh Wheeler, and orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick.

Playing the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, this is the first time since 1980 that Sweeney Todd has been on Broadway. The original scored eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, and best direction for Hal Prince.

Read reviews from Variety, the New York Times, the New York Post and more.


Deadline

"Josh Groban & Annaleigh Ashford Triumph In Sondheim Masterpiece"

"... director Thomas Kail’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street will stand out for, among many other attributes, its full-on, unabashed ambition. A prodigious theatrical event that aims for greatness and achieves it, this revival of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler masterpiece is not to be missed."

"With Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford leading a flawless, 25-member cast that also includes Stranger Things‘ Gaten Matarazzo (given one of the scores most beautiful songs in “Not While I’m Around,” and nailing it), the revival, opening tonight at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, makes the case that Sweeney just might be Sondheim’s greatest work (at least until the next production of Sunday in the Park comes along)."

"Kail, Groban and Ashford throw caution to the wind and dare to meet Sweeney on its own outsized, baked-in-the-pie terms, and emerge bloody victorious. Grammy-magnet Groban, his baritone put to even better use than in his eye-opening 2016 Broadway debut as the star of the gone-way-too-soon Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, makes himself over into a full-blown, and fully developed, Broadway star, his performance living up to every shriek and cry from the army of diehard Grobanites that greet his entrance at the Lunt-Fontanne. His Sweeney is by turns sympathetic and monstrous – mostly the latter, as it should be..."

Greg Evans, Deadline
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The New York Times

"The Many Thrilling Flavors of a Full-Scale ‘Sweeney Todd."

"Sondheim’s masterpiece, restored to its proper size and sung to the hilt by Josh Groban, makes a welcome Broadway return"

"Now comes a new special on the menu: the ravishingly sung, deeply emotional and strangely hilarious “Sweeney” revival that opened on Sunday at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater. Starring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford, and directed by Thomas Kail, it has a rictus on its face and a scar in its heart."

"The “gorgeously sung” part is no surprise with Groban, whose quasi-operatic pop baritone perfectly encompasses the range of the role, and whose technique makes sure every word is bell clear."

"... most of the humor comes from Ashford herself, a brilliant comic for whom comedy is not the end but the means. Her Mrs. Lovett — despite a tip of the wig to Angela Lansbury, who originated the role — is not the music-hall zany Lansbury created, but a brutal schemer for whom zaniness is a useful cover."

"Certainly Kail’s production makes a convincing new case for “Sweeney” as a Broadway-size property, with its cast of 25 (I’ve seen it with as few as nine) and its orchestra playing Jonathan Tunick’s original orchestrations for 26."

Jesse Green, The New York Times
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Variety

"Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford Lead a Soaring but Remote Sondheim Revival on Broadway"

"For its stars Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford, this lushly orchestrated and opera-scale production, from “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail, proves a magnificent showcase for their respective, jaw-dropping talents."

"Kail’s production has an austere severity that’s suited to serial killings but also makes it feel coolly remote. The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre is cavernous; Mimi Lien’s soaring sewage tunnel set emphasizes its proportions, which make a stunning canvas for the shadowy grandeur of Natasha Katz’s lighting design."

"Though the blood flows (modestly) and the stage flashes red now and again, it could all be more gruesome, more twisted and a bit less serious, even for a melodrama. (The choreography by Steven Hoggett, often limited to gestures or clumped scurrying, is likewise earnest.) That makes Ashford, leaving her own indelible mark on the role, an especially exhilarating standout. Her wit carries an element of surprise that feels like its own kind of danger"

Naveen Kumar, Variety
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New York Post

"Josh Groban is a gentle demon on Broadway"

"... minutes into the new Broadway revival starring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford that opened Sunday night at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, I was already verklempt. Such is the overwhelming experience of hearing Sondheim’s glorious 1979 score in all its splendor played by a 26-person orchestra — not in some cavernous concert hall or opera house, but a real Broadway theater. It’s been a while.

"Ashford is a remarkably gifted comedienne. However, there’s more to her Lovett than schtick. With modern flair, she conjures memories of the very real women who’ve befriended serial killers like Ted Bundy or Charles Manson to find purpose or love."

"Not all is perfect at the pie shop, though. What hinders “Hamilton” director Kail’s conventional but by no means blasé production is Steven Hoggett’s largely pointless choreography."

"Regardless, all it takes is a swell of the orchestra and the hellfire wails of the chorus to joltingly remind us we’re at one of the greatest musicals ever written."

Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post
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Entertainment Weekly

"Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford are a shear delight in Broadway revival"

"Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd, if only to witness the brilliant performances by Josh Groban, Annaleigh Ashford, Gaten Matarazzo, Jordan Fisher, and more"

"When it comes to casting the revival's bloodthirsty barber, Grammy-nominated pop-opera singer Josh Groban likely isn't the first person that most people would have in mind... But Groban brings marvelous method to the madman, imbuing his performance with a slow-simmering evil that steadily bubbles throughout the first act until it's uncontrollably boiling and pouring out of him as he snarls, undulates, and lunges across the stage."

"Celebrating Mrs. Lovett's lunacy (and her Cockney accent too), Ashford holds nothing back as she leans into several side-splitting bits of physical comedy... throughout the show, but also expertly explores her character's tender, maternal relationship with Tobias too."

"... with flawless performances by the entire company, there's plenty to love about this chef's kiss of a revival of one of Sondheim's greatest works. Attend the tale — you won't regret it. A"

Emlyn Travis, Entertainment Weekly
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Washington Post

"Groban and Ashford ignite the flames of a funny, sexier ‘Sweeney Todd’"

"Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s masterpiece, directed by ‘Hamilton’s’ Thomas Kail, has its official Broadway opening"

Peter Marks, Washington Post
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Wall Street Journal

"Josh Groban’s Boyish Demon Barber"

"The superstar vocalist headlines alongside Annaleigh Ashford in a full-scale Broadway revival of the macabre Stephen Sondheim classic, but he struggles to fully summon Sweeney’s anguished soul"

Charles Isherwood, Wall Street Journal
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The Guardian
★★★★

"Dazzling Broadway revival"

"Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford play Stephen Sondheim’s murderous Victorian couple in a bold and barnstorming take"

"Thomas Kail’s sumptuous Broadway revival"

"Groban seldom reveals the depths of rage, trauma and mania that make a monster of this man. It’s a close-shave approach to the role: clean and precise, it doesn’t pierce the surface."

"If Groban comes across as flat, his voice, which thrums with menace, embraces every given note. As Mrs Lovett, Annaleigh Ashford, one of Broadway’s great comedians, makes soiled hay of every joke and rhyme."

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2023/mar/27/sweeney-todd-demon-barber-broadway-play-review, The Guardian
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📷 Main photo: Sweeney Todd on Broadway. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

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