Sweeney Todd is in­tense

The Tribune (NZ) - - REVIEW - GRANT MILLER

Some­times called the dark­est mu­si­cal ever writ­ten, Sweeney Todd is also a thriller.

The Abbey Mu­si­cal Theatre pro­duc­tion is of­ten thrilling, too, main­tain­ing emo­tional in­ten­sity for long pe­ri­ods.

This is off­set by hu­mour, which is cru­cial for the au­di­ence to de­velop em­pa­thy with the cen­tral char­ac­ter, the mur­der­ous Sweeney Todd.

Por­tray­ing the de­mon bar­ber of Fleet St, Glen Nes­bit goes from cal­cu­lat­ing, to crazy and cyn­i­cal as he plots re­venge against a cor­rupt judge who badly wronged him.

Much of the show de­pends on sell­ing the dis­turb­ing part­ner­ship Todd has with Mrs Lovett, played with aplomb by Tracey-Lynne Cody.

Their act­ing is as­sured and sen­si­tive, and there are also other fine voices on show, none more ac­com­plished than Madi­son Hor­man and Michael Doody’s.

There are sev­eral lovely duets, Chris Thomp­son’s An­thony with Mady Hor­man’s Jo­hanna be­ing one, while Read Wheeler’s ren­di­tion of Not While I’m Around is a poignant de­light.

How­ever, the show’s start felt a lit­tle awk­ward and there was the oc­ca­sional un­cer­tain By Stephen Sond­heim & Hugh Wheeler Di­rected, de­signed and stage by Scott An­drew Mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Gra­ham John­ston Abbey Au­di­to­rium March 3 – 19

mo­ment on open­ing night.

Stephen Sond­heim’s score is im­mensely dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate and the back­ing track is of­ten un­help­ful, but the cast rises above th­ese chal­lenges to present an epic achieve­ment.

The sto­ry­lines con­verge in the se­cond act and the des­per­a­tion as­so­ci­ated with the cir­cum­stances is al­most pal­pa­ble as the cli­max nears.

Di­rec­tor Scott An­drew’s of­ten dimly- lit stage is an ef­fec­tive el­e­ment amid many mood changes.

There are mo­ments where it feels like Romeo and Juliet or The Phan­tom of the Opera, and there are times when cast and au­di­ence alike are mes­merised as the story un­folds. It’s the sort of show some peo­ple will go and see more than once.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/ FAIRFAX NZ

Venge­fully mur­der­ous bar­ber and cut-throat psy­chopath Sweeney Todd, played by Glenn Nes­bit per­forms a shave on Ol­lie Nes­bit in a scene from Sweeney Todd: The De­mon Bar­ber of Fleet Street.

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