Sweeney Todd

Rebecca Varidel
27th Jul 2023

Sweeney Todd. Superbly performed. Supremely entertaining. Sondheim shown at his ultimate. Sensational!.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was not only unjustly transported to Sydney in the 18th century, but has arrived here now in his stupendous musical theatre show at the Sydney Opera House.

Opening night audiences gobbled up the meaty goodness, gristle and all, laughing, cheering, and even booing the bad guys, before jumping to their feet in standing ovation.

This handsomely honed Sondheim classic musical delivers the total entertainment package, under the brilliant direction of Stuart Maunder, with perfect casting, musicality, character acting both drama and comedy, stunning set and costumes boosted by that poignant original lighting design.

In the lead role of the man himself, Ben Minglay as Sweeney Todd is dark and sombre, and magnificent. His presence alerts us to his power, then is multiplied across booming voice, sweeping gestures, commanding movement.

Not to be outdone, Antoinette Halloran as Mrs Lovett puts out everything the role demands and more. Outstandingly overt yet at times pulled back with just enough restraint, the timing of her comedy brings the house down in spontaneous belly laughs.

Perhaps I haven't seen another show as well cast, and all 18 performers bring their own voice to a fabulously faultless and most extremely enjoyable production. Jeremy Campasi (as Tobias Ragg) captivates in his solo, topping off his shimmering light. They couldn't have pulled this stupendous show off without any of them. Harry Targett, Ashleigh Rubenach, Margaret Trubiano, Bejamin Rasheed, Kanen Breen, Dean Vince and the rest of the ensemble bring back the comedy to musical theatre inserting splatterings of pantomime.

Other things to love include the changing of sets during songs; the barber shop disappears into the background as the final notes trail away too. Cast costume changes onstage add impact; the split second shift by the ensemble from 'prostitutes' (in red) to 'insane assylum' (in tattered white) could be the single best piece of musical theatre performance that I've ever witnessed.

Walking to the carpark after the show, people were still singing the showtunes, always an awesome sign of penultimate pleasure. The best show of the year. The best production of Sweeney Todd I've witnessed. Get your teeth stuck into this gruesome goodness at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House until 27 August.


Photo by Daniel Boud