Reviewed by Fran Edwards
This musical reminds this reviewer not to put performers in boxes, they will always surprise you. Director Hayley Horton has done well with her choices for this production.
With any Stephen Sondheim score the music is paramount so kudos to Mark DeLaine also for the incredible work he has put in to bring us this great score.
The set, by Horton and Malcolm Horton is great, many layers and levels with nooks and crannies and lots of grot. The costumes fit the bill perfectly, the work of Jamie Jewel and an army of helpers. The lighting by Ian Barge brought both to the fore and emphasised the darkness and the whole feel. The sound by Tim Freedman delivered the music well with a few balance problems which I’m sure were an opening night aberration.
The ensemble did their MD and Mr Sondheim proud, delivering a difficult score well, playing many parts with conviction. They all did so well it would be unfair to single out anyone.
Rod Schultz was completely convincing as the demon barber, not maniacal, or over the top but quietly and chillingly convincing. As Mrs Lovett, Fiona Delaine showed her strong talent and a gift for comedy, was that really the beautiful Fiona? Their duet A Little Priest was well delivered.
Eden Plaisted was hilarious as Pirelli and Fahad Farooque was just right as offsider Tobias. The duet Not While I’m Around was a highlight. Joel Valenti was a strong Judge Turpin and Belinda Smith as Johanna was as sweet as she should be. As the beggar woman Michelle Nightingale was completely unrecognisable and superb. So was Jewel as Beadle Bamford, he was the focus of every scene he appeared in.
This is not a show to be undertaken lightly, but when it works…… The Hills audiences will be discussing this one for years to come. You should indeed attend the tale of Sweeney Todd!