REVIEW: Youngsters serve up a tasty treat

Sweeney Todd - The Whole Cast.
Sweeney Todd - The Whole Cast.

Alnwick Playhouse Senior Youth Theatre performed Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street on Wednesday, July 9, at Alnwick Playhouse

What a treat. And before you ask, I’m not talking about one of Mrs Lovett’s special pies.

Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett.

Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett.

Rather, Alnwick Playhouse Senior Youth Theatre’s gripping opening-night rendition of Sweeney Todd.

This talented young group cooked up a memorable performance which did justice to Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning musical.

This black operetta tells the story of Benjamin Barker, aka Sweeney Todd, who returns to London after 15 years’ transportation on trumped-up charges.

When he finds out that his wife poisoned herself after being raped by the judge who sentenced him, he vows revenge on the judge and, later, other people too.

Sweeney Todd.

Sweeney Todd.

He teams up with a piemaker, the aforementioned Mrs Lovett, and opens a barbershop in which he slits the throats of customers and has them baked into pies.

On the face of it, this show is an ambitious one. Sondheim’s score is considered one of his most complex, a large part of the production is sung and the theme is dark and sinister.

There’s also the small matter of trying to perfect those Landan accents.

But the Youth Theatre rose to the challenge. This performance was polished and well-executed and some of the vocals were tremendous.

Particular praise has to go to Jordan Shiel (Sweeney Todd) and Charley Anstee (Mrs Lovett).

Shiel gave one of the best performances I have seen from a male lead in a youth production – a cut above, you might say – while Anstee gave a deliciously deranged and unhinged portrayal of Lovett.

The show is on tonight and tomorrow at 7.30pm, at Alnwick Playhouse, and I would encourage people to go along and support these talented youngsters. They deserve it.

Tickets are priced £8 standard, £7 conc and £6 child/student. Call 01665 510785, visit alnwickplayhouse.co.uk or pop into the box office.

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