|Sweeney Todd||James Canning|
|Mrs Lovett||Alison Canning|
|Anthony Hope||Rob Felstead|
|Beggar Woman||Carol Jeffcutt|
|Judge Turpin||Simon Roberts|
|Beadle Bamford||Stuart Dark|
|Tobias||Henry Firth & Ethan Hughes|
|Adolfo Pirelli||Mark Newton|
Swindon Amateur Light Operatic Society made a bold choice when they chose Sweeney Todd for their latest production at the Wyvern Theatre this week; however, in the hands of director Russell Langdown, it proved to be a good one.
James Canning epitomised the barbaric, barber, Sweeney Todd, who takes his killing revenge on those people who imprisoned him and then with the aid of the wonderful Mrs Lovett, played by Alison Canning stuffs them into pies. James is so right for this part. Looks, voice and acting ability are never wanting. He drew me in with ease almost as soon as he arrived on stage; a stunning portrayal all round.
Alison Canning who takes on the role of pie maker, Mrs Lovett, had perfect timing for the comedy lines delivered and the difficult lyrics sung. This husband and wife team must have had great fun and spent so much time rehearsing at home together. The lighter side to the parts were crafted beautifully. As were the more sinister in each of their roles. They were rehearsed and played almost to perfection.
Robert Felstead, who played Anthony Hope, has a lovely musical theatre voice and will I'm sure be a huge asset to the company. This being his debut with SALOS. His love interest Johanna was beautifully played by Lizzy Webb. Her voice soaring up through the rafters. Simon Roberts and Stuart Dark played their roles as only they can; with gusto and panache and a certain amount of darkness from Simon.
Sometimes a small character part in a production can leave you remembering it. Carol Jeffcutt played the Beggar Woman very well indeed. I'm sure a lot of the audience will feel the same. Mark Newton, as Adolfo, entered into his character along with the young Tobias, who was played admirably by Ethan Hughes on this first night. At 13 Ethan was certainly up there with the others. There are no weak links in this production.
The musical score, by Steven Sondheim, a challenging task by any means, was executed by a well rehearsed orchestra under the direction of MD Malcolm Webb. Chorus numbers, although few and very different from your feel good factor musical were sung superbly and cleverly used by the director to give full effect.
This story line is one that you don't expect to be an engaging, lively musical. And it's not. However, director Russ and his cast managed to draw us all into the plot from the outset. Well they did me anyway. At times you could have heard a pin drop in the theatre.
The marvellous set, props, lighting, costumes and sound made this one of those nights that I will remember for the sheer daring of a company to choose such a diverse musical and ultimately pull it off with style. It's unusual for me not to find some little thing to critique about. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Must be my dark side. Or it could just be that I appreciated that it was crafted so cleverly.
Ros Hollands (Swindon Advertiser)
Brilliantly directed by Russell Langdown with musical director Malcolm Webb, Swindon’s musical theatre society SALOS bring the macabre story of Sweeney Todd vividly to the stage this week. The show, with Stephen Sondheim’s marvellous music and lyrics, and book by Hugh Wheeler, exposes squalor in 19th-century London, where deprivation, poverty and corruption were rife.
The quality of performance is stunning. Real life husband and wife James Canning, as Sweeney Todd and Alison Canning as Mrs Lovett, his landlady, are splendid, and the first night cast on Tuesday had no weak link. The young Tobias was played superbly by Ethan Hughes, who shares the role with Henry Firth. Mark Newton provides a comic touch as Adolfo Pirelli who, like so many other characters, is not at all what he seems. Even Carol Jeffcutt’s beggar woman holds a grim secret.
A fine well-costumed chorus, accomplished orchestra, ingenious special effects and lighting, and a wonderful two-tier set that incorporates a bleak urban skyline set the seal on a memorable show that exudes dramatic intensity.
Stella Taylor (Swindon Advertiser)
Dress rehearsal picture provided by kind permission of Lisa and Darren Coleman (www.puttyfoot.com)