SWEENEY TODD GETS THE NOD
Sweeney Todd - Flying Squad” is how the ol’ Cockney rhyming slang called it, and The Sweeney became the title of a long-running 70s British TV series and later, several films followed.
However, the basis for the name rests on the Victorian ‘penny dreadful’ tale of Sweeney Todd, a vengeful barber and his collaboration with a ghoulish piemaker who helps him dispose of the bodies. Opening in the Abbey Auditorium tomorrow ( Thursday) night, this macabre musical tale of cut-throat calamity and horrifically tasty pasties descends into a netherworld world of revenge, murder and meaty madness.
Stephen Sondheim’s musical (you might remember the movie with Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and the late Alan Rickman) was originally set in a scrabbling Dickensian world, but director Scott Andrew has flipped the darkly humorous show into the 20th century, locating it during the Great Depression as World War II looms. While remaining true to the words and the music, there are enough historic parallels between the lassez-faire 1840s, devil-take-the-hindmost 1930s, and our own corrupt neo-liberal age.
“Poverty, crime, class structure, the scarcity of food and the way in which machines dominated people’s lives are themes which transcend both centuries,” Scott says.
Playing Sweeney is a flawed but honest man who returns from exile to take revenge on a corrupt judge who seduced his wife and made his daughter a ward of state is ex-pat Palmy person Glen Nesbit. Glen has been lured back from Australia to play one of his favourite musical theatre roles.
“It’s the King Lear of musical theatre. It runs the emotions like no other principal role,” he says.
Also returning to the city stage after a 10 year break, is Tracey-Lynne Cody as Mrs Lovett. The lead singer for band Diamond Sutra was attracted by the “wickedness of Mrs Lovett and the complexity of the music”.
“In Sweeney Todd, she sees a soul mate for life, a business partner, a wholesale supplier and the love of her life. She can be maternally warm-hearted but also controlling and vindictive,” Tracey-Lynne says.
Sweeney Todd, with a cast of 21, opens at the Abbey Theatre Auditorium, Centennial Dr, tomorrow and runs through to March 19. Visit AMT’s website to purchase tickets or ring 355 0499.