Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. After a warm welcome from the team at KMTC (Knutsford Musical Theatre Company) this is exactly what I did this evening. The auditorium has been transformed to take you into the creepy, dark, eerie world of Sweeney Todd, with blood splattered posters all over the walls, razors hanging from the ceiling above us and sounds from the streets of London being played to transport us into this dark story of revenge and love.
Director Ben Ireson has taken on a huge task bringing this piece to life and has done a fantastic job, especially with changing the space to include an immersive area and the brilliant use of such a large set piece that takes over the centre of the stage.
The immersive section has numerous cast members travelling through, singing, and telling parts of the story from and you may be lucky enough to have cast join you at your table to bring you in to the story. I am on table B4 which was on the front row right at the end on the left. My issue with the immersive section is that with cast being in the audience at the same time as cast on the main stage, it is difficult to concentrate on what they are singing or who is singing. Another issue from my table is that on many occasions, cast are placed on the stairs at the front which then blocks a lot of action on the main stage. This happens regularly, especially during act one when the story is being set up. I found this most off-putting during Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir when Todd and Mrs Lovett are directly in front of us leaving us unable to see Tobias delivering the song.
The main set is a very well used, a large piece in the centre which is used as Mrs Lovett’s shop and above becomes Todd’s shop. Simple looking but in act two you can see how technical the piece, especially during the ‘intimate’ shaves.
Lighting is used well and must be difficult when you add in an immersive area, trying to ensure that everywhere is lit on stage and off, but I especially like the use of the UV lights that reveal a hidden message on the table near the end of the show.
Sweeney Todd has a huge score, and it is apparent the cast and musical director have worked extremely hard to fine tune this fabulous piece. The huge 18-piece orchestra, conducted by Musical Director Michael J Scott sounds incredible.
The title role of Sweeney Todd is played by Joel Merry, and he completely immerses himself into the role, showing the pain and despair that Todd endured and what has driven him to return to get his revenge. Kelly Walton completely lets go as Mrs Lovett and injects a lot of humour into the role. A character I was fully invested in was the Beggar Woman/Lucy, played by Dani Fray, who has kept my attention every time she enters the space. You can see the pain and despair from this character and Fray completely allows the character to take over her.
Toby Abbott as Tobias Ragg is fantastic, delivering a cheeky yet loveable role with incredible vocals. Connor Ryan as Anthony Hope is phenomenal, giving us a the most stunning vocals and fully realised character.
This is an extremely strong cast and the amount of work they have all put in does not go unnoticed.
We experienced a few sound issues, especially earlier on in the piece, with microphones not coming on and, on a few occasions, the wrong microphones put on so you could hear some off stage conversations but this seemed to be rectified early on and I put it down to being opening night and can see it only getting tighter as the run continues.
Sweeney Todd is not a hugely dance driven show but the pieces they do are delivered well and Choreographer Sophie Meggitt should be extremely proud of her work.
KMTC have done a fantastic job in bringing this story to life and every member should be extremely proud.
Playing until 20th May, https://kmtc.org.uk/
Reviewer: Damian Riverol
Reviewed: 17th May 2023
North West End UK Rating: