A little something different for you today folks, as we bring you a review of Sweeney Todd the opera, yes you read that right, opera.
It was a first for us last night as we visited Venue Cymru for a performance of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd performed by the Welsh National Opera.
First of all I have to say that I loved the film adaptation from 2007 with Johnny Depp and Helen Bonham Carter, so when the chance came up to bring you a review of the adaptation at Venue Cymru how could I refuse.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
I think you may all know the story of Sweeney Todd, but if you are one of the few that doesn’t then let me tell you about him (you can skip this section if you already know about him and his pies).
Sweeney Todd (The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) has an uncanny taste bloody and blind vengeance. Those unlucky souls that enter his shop get more than a close shave from his razor. The poor victims of his bloody hands end up in Mrs Lovett’s rather unsavoury pies, proving you are what you eat.
The first thing that I have to mention in the evening’s performance was the stage the fantastic use of steel cargo containers on the stage was a bit of shock at first, but with opening to bring us to other locations in and around the world of Sweeney Todd was very nicely done.
From his Barber shop to the home of Johanna (played by Soraya Mafi) including her bedroom and Judge Turpin’s (played by Steven Page) room where he … well I’m not going to go in to that as that would be a spoiler in more ways than one.
The Welsh National Opera put on a superb performance of Stephen Sondheim’s amazing musical, the show is funny, shocking and sad throughout and there were many times that I found myself laughing loud, specially when Mrs Lovett (played by Janis Kelly) and Sweeney Todd (played by David Arnsperger) are singing about the many types of pies that they could be serving.
There is a dark overtone with the Todd character as well, with him singing to his close friends, his razor blades, which gives you a feeling that his time spent wrongfully imprisoned has left on the edge of the abyss that he can not turn away from.
The show not only has an amazing cast, it also includes a superb live orchestration for the performance, also let’s not forget to mention the lighting, scenes are lit from bright cheery moments and dark foreboding shades of red, almost as if hell itself has opened its gates for the evil revenge that Sweeney Todd has unleashed.
As I mentioned earlier this adaptation of the Todd’s story is set in a later period in time that the film that many of you may know, but it works, it still has that feel of something sinister and unnerving.
I did hear several people mentioning the film on the way out after the show, but I would have to say, ignore the film you know, look at this adaptation as something you haven’t seen. The vocals from the Welsh National Opera are superb, don’t let the word “Opera” put you off.
Sweeney Todd is showing at Venue Cymru until the 31st October and then continues on tour across the UK.