Little Theatre Company

Live theatre in the heart of Burton upon Trent

Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

by Stephen Sondheim

Performed: November 2013

Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street  by Stephen Sondheim

Review by West Midlands Theatre.

I’ve always thought that the Little Theatre Company of Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire should drop the word little from their monica, as they never do anything small or by halves.  Their latest production of the difficult and dark Sondheim Musical ‘Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ - is no exception.

Sweeney Todd, rife with gore and gristle, and Stephen Sondheim’s superb musical score is a bump up from the usual light musical comedies and rock musicals usually performed my amateur societies.  It’s the most fun you can have watching people wallow in absolute misery – which is exactly what you do in this dark story depicting London at its late-19th-century worst: disease-ridden slums inhabited by miserable, starving, filthy lower classes lorded over by corrupt elite society.

A Cast to Die For

Leon Ratcliffe as Sweeney Todd commands the night with a dark baritone and devours the role with murderous confidence and ease.  Ratcliffe delivers a menacing performance, nailing Sweeney Todd’s tortured mind, as he plots bitter revenge against a judge who wrongly imprisoned him, raped his wife and now lusts after his daughter.

Todd teams with partner in crime Mrs. Lovett, owner of a meat pie emporium, setting up his barbershop above her failing shop. He slits customers’ throats during their shaves, then shoves them down a chute to Lovett’s bakery ovens below. Her meat pie eatery soars with its new secret ingredient. Revenge was never so sweet.

The Worst Pie Shop in London, run by Mrs Lovett, is performed by Katie Haywood, who plays Lovett appropriately unhinged and looks and sounds every bit the theatre pro in the female lead role.

Other notable performances include the young Jim Haywood as Tobias Ragg, Phil Robinson as the convincingly lustful Judge Turpin, and Jodie Marie and Tim Robinson who deliver the goods too as the well-cast lovers.  Beadle Bamford also postures in all the right places.

Murderous Ensemble

But let’s not forget this is an ensemble piece, and when in full voice, the brilliantly costumed chorus, literally thunders through the The Brewhouse Arts Centre.

This show is tightly directed by John Bowness, who works wonders with a small stage.  Overall this is a well-cast production that you are sure to want to get your teeth into.

There is also Sweeney Todd Ale available during the interval, but we advise you stay clear of any Meat Pies!



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