Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sweeney Todd -Review- Heworth Grange School

Sweeney Todd
Felling Stage Society
Heworth Grange School
30th October 2012

Can you remember the 'press all the right buttons' film  with Johnny Depp of the same name a fair few years ago. Well it was 'just' alright in my eyes, nothing too much to write home about.
Tonight was the stage version by Felling Stage Society, a society that I had heard a lot about, but never got around to visiting.

Sweeney Todd is the story of a Fleet Street Barber getting his rightful and revengeful comeuppance on the traitors that conspired against him and his loving family.
Todd is sent to Australia but comes back to London to seek out the truth and use his cut throat razors with magnificent effect.

I have purposely kept the synopsis short, as you will have probably have heard all about it anyway, and most importantly I didn't want to take any words away from what I am about to write.
The show was simply STUNNING, so mesmerising from even before the show actually started, with the chorus milling around the front of the stage area, this gave a very open-aired effect to proceedings, with the audience almost being part of the show.
No curtain up,as the stage was already presented beautifully with a superbly built cube set, that most of the scenery took part in or around.
From the introduction of the chorus and the main characters on 'The Ballad of Sweeney Todd' this gave me enough goosebumps to know that the singing was going to be superb tonight. It did not disappoint all night.
With superb musical numbers that the orchestra played along with very well, like 'No Place Like London', 'Kiss Me' and amongst others 'Johanna' the constant wave of professionalism was ever present.
This professional approach carried on with the acting, with some sterling performances from the principal actors.
Claire Jackson, playing Mrs Lovett the pie shop owner , was superb as the bubbly character who takes in Todd when he gets back into London.
Michael Geddes as Sweeney Todd himself, commanded the stage with his very impressive vocal range and ability. His acting and facial expressions are enough to sell the show.
Matthew Carr as Anthony, Todd's companion from Australia and suitor of his daughter, played a blinder with his finesse, again brilliant vocals which captivated the small audience.
Lisa Givens playing Johanna, Todd's daughter gave a very credible rendition of her character, her interactions with Carr was lovely to see as they fought for love.
Top top marks go to Katie Howes as the Beggar Woman, she sang and flirted her heart out, she was instrumental in all of the scenes working as beautifully as they did. 
Bea Atkinson, the Director is a perfectionist, and I have spoken to her many times about this in what she expects from the actors, she like probably a lot of the players on stage were very nervous about such a big production. Well hopefully after the wonderful first night,all fears will be redundant.
Doing crits has made me expect that something, even the smallest glitch, or a voice or two out of tune will come along and temporarily spoil something that is soooo good. Well very pleased to announce that nothing blotted the copy book of Felling Stage Society tonight. The stage play over the film version anyday..!!
Go and see it..!!

Sweeney Todd is playing until Saturday 3rd November.

Michael Hunter


  1. I saw this show on the back of this review.

    Staging wise, I thought the house unit looked great (if a little tall for the stage), but the hand pushing up the trapdoor kept spoiling the drama! The show sounded and looked good, the crew appeared well drilled and discrete given that there were no closing tabs throughout the show. Principals were decent - Beggar Woman, Anthony and Johanna were noticeably better than the rest, the Judge was as threatening as a banana and the Beadle (although massively talented vocally) gurned his way through the show mercilessly. Sweeney and Mrs Lovett were both a presence but had very little chemistry or comedy, and my favourite song Johanna was spoiled massively both by Sweeney not knowing his lines ("...another bright red day, we learn Johanna to say...I'm fine" being one of the worst cases) and by some timing issues on the night. The band had significant talent although in my opinion missed any kind of percussion badly.

    The chorus were well drilled if a little static (not their fault) and excelled in the scenes where they were allowed a little freedom to move - "God that's good" being a highlight. A very talented ensemble.

    Overall it was an impressive and enjoyable attempt, and I'll certainly keep an eye out for their next production.

  2. Hmm... It's all very curious! Obviously!