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Review: Sweeney Todd at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

The Passion Play

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Until Saturday 5th March 2016

Newcastle’s historic theatre is now host to a fundraising production of Stephen Sondheim’s dark, tragic musical. Like with the previous show Pirates of Penzance, the Preservation Trustplan to use any money raised to help repair the fabulous venue. In fact, the money raised last year is already starting to result in improvements to the public areas of the theatre.

So what about the show? This production features a 25 piece orchestra, under the musical direction of Michael Wilmot, who take full advantage of the fabulous acoustics of the Opera House. They make easy work of Sondheim's complex score.  On stage are 10 principals and a company of 40 additional talented performers. This is a large scale production which is performed with passion.

The story begins as Sweeney Todd (Thomas Potts) and the impressionable sailor Anthony (Michael Tait) disembark from a long voyage. Todd heads off to his old premises which now have a pie shop run by Mrs Lovett (Mia Bazzoui). When Todd enquires if he can take on the upstairs room she has a tale of nasty events that occurred in that space.

Sweeney Todd soon realizes that Judge Turpin (Gawen Robertson) is very much still around and he has Todd’s daughter, Joanna (Emily Miller) as his ward. He vows to avenge the wrong doing. Once he opens up as a barber a rival, Italian barber Pirelli (Gordon Horne) challenges him which leads to the first episode of conflict.

A strong cast deliver an impressive performance. Thomas Potts plays a darkly brooding, yet charismatic Sweeney Todd. This is in contrast to the pragmatic, and as a result funny, pie shop owner who is played by the wonderful Mia Bazzoui.

Each of the principal cast has an opportunity to take the spotlight and there were no weak links in the musical numbers.  Special mention should go to Emily Miller, who sang like a wonderful nightingale and was a pleasure to listen to.

Mixed in the dark plot of murder and corruption are dashes of humour including Bryony Souza-Hawkins as the Beggar Woman and John Dalziel as Joans Fogg.  Speaking of the corruption of power, Gawen Robertson and Anthony Harbottle came across as ruthless as the Judge Turpin and his henchman Beadle Bamford.

Very popular with the audience, and clearly enjoying their moment in the spotlight were Michael Tait as Joanna’s love interest Anthony and the confident William Lockley as the vulnerable Tobias.

The production values extend to the set design by Stuart Bagnall and the costumes by Bea Atkinson and First act Theatre. The clever set leaves the audience under no illusion about the method of the victims dispatch. 

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is an ambitious production but the experienced director Lynne Wilmot and choreographer Bobby Trotter have pulled it off.  The cast clearly had a blast and deserve the success. The fact that the money raised will help restore one of the region’s finest theatre gems is a real bonus.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Sweeney Todd is being performed on the evenings of Wednesday 2nd March to Saturday 5th March 2016at 7.15pm. Tickets are available at or 0844 249 1000 and priced £13 for adults and £10 for concessions.

The Tyne Theatre & Opera House Box Office is open 10am-3:30pm Monday to Friday and event days
Booking and Information Line: 0844 2491 000 (10am – 6pm Monday to Friday)

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