Reviews: Sweeney Todd at the London Coliseum

A reviews round-up for Sweeney Todd at the London Coliseum.

Following critically-acclaimed performances at New York’s Lincoln Center, English National Opera presents a starred-studded production of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Starring award-winning international opera singer Bryn Terfel as Sweeney Tod, acclaimed and much-loved Hollywood actress and screenwriter Emma Thompson as Mrs Lovett and West End star Philip Quast as Judge Turpin, this semi-staged concert version of the show is directed by Lonny Price and conducted by David Charles Abell.

Joining Bryn Terfel, Emma Thompson and Philip Quast are Matthew Seadon-Young as Anthony Hope, Katie Hall as Johanna Barker,  Jack North as Tobias Ragg, Alex Gaumond as Beadle Bamford, Rosalie Craig as Beggar Woman and John Owen-Jones as Pirelli.

Reviews are in for Stephen Sondheim’s dark masterpiece with critics giving it a resounding thumbs up.

Average rating score for this production



“this semi-staged version of Stephen Sondheim’s dark masterpiece is quite something.  “the luxury casting of Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson in the leads makes it feel like a one-off event.“ “an exceptional evening in which there is first-rate singing from Katie Hall as Johanna, Matthew Seadon-Young as her ardent wooer and Philip Quast as the villainous Judge Turpin who, we are left in no doubt, achieves a sexual climax during his self-flagellation."

“Here is a symphony of cannibalism, a gory, nauseous tale turned into high art by the bass baritone of big Bryn Terfel and the richness of English National Opera’s superb orchestra.” “Miss Thompson’s soprano has character and just about passes muster. It is in the Victoria Wood class of voice, and I do not necessarily mean that as an insult.” “The grandeur of this show’s operatic sweep is asserted by a closing chorus of remarkable force, full-belt sopranos’ faces garishly illuminated by footlights. Meaty, indeed.”

“Terfel’s Demon Barber may be a familiar quantity in London, but he continues to command the role with a laconic intensity which makes Todd’s monomania all the more mesmerising. Singing with steely restraint and a welcome lack of rasp or rant, he portrays a Byronic wanderer, with a tormented inner life.” “An even bigger pleasure was provided by Emma Thompson, whose performance on Broadway drew rave reviews. She makes a terrific Mrs Lovett, hitting just the right balance between endearing naiveté and ruthless amorality, as well as singing meticulously and without affectation. Her flights of fancy in “By the sea” become irresistible a comic tour de force.”

“The English National Orchestra's London Coliseum becomes the site of murder most foul - but Bryn Terfel and Thompson make it palatable” “For an incredulous minute or two, you are tricked in thinking that they are going to suffocate this tale of warping obsession and throat-slitting cannibalistic revenge with “concert performance” refinement. “ “Emma Thompson brings a wily music-hall-Cockney sense of comic timing and mastery of the insinuating pause to Mrs Lovett. “ “Terfel is gradually becoming one of the great exponents of the role of Sweeney and in addition to the majestic bass baritone voice, he brings a haunting sense of aloneness to the part, singing a love-song to his rediscovered razors with a scalp- tingling raptness and wholly oblivious of Mrs L and her concurrent monomaniac flutings about him.  “ “The casting is almost absurdly deluxe.”

"ENO’s new partnership to produce musicals with GradeLinnit pays rich dividends with a production that earns its keep in the opera house but never overwhelms the musical." "Bryn Terfel’s voice has a rumbling rage and range that’s simply thrilling to hear. And he’s ideally partnered by the more musically lightweight Emma Thompson as Mrs Lovett, who brings just the right macabre sense of practical humour " "the most luxurious casting ever seen on a West End stage outside of a one-night gala." "Director Lonny Price’s constantly playful production gives the show true theatrical context as well as a concept."

Date: 3 April 2015
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