John Bowles is a respected tv presenter, theatre and concert performer.
Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim, Book: Hugh Wheeler, Director: Jonathon Kent.
Sweeney Todd was one of the first shows I ever saw as a young man in Melbourne. It was an amateur production and, needless to say, it made quite an impression on my young mind.
This new production, which has transferred from Chichester, and is currently playing at The Adelphi, has made an impression too… but this time it is because of the crystal clear performance of Imelda Staunton as Mrs Lovett. I didn’t know what to expect before she stepped out on stage because Angela Landsbury had stamped her mark on the role so indelibly, in my mind. She seems younger than other Mrs Lovetts, perhaps it’s the costume and setting, which has been brought into the 20th century. Or perhaps it’s the sheer energy she exudes; a wonderful mix of cunning and charm. She’s seems to actively take the audience on her journey.
Christopher Ward’s design, which has placed this production in a factory, that encompasses the full stage area, illustrates well the desperation of the working poor and seems to serves Sondheim’s masterpiece; somehow making the story more relevant because it is taking place in a time not far out of our reach of experience.
Michael Ball makes a fine Todd, and with Imelda, they do form a great team.
It is good to see a Sondheim title amongst the list of shows on in London and this production is a worthy addition.
The Adelphi is on the Strand and we ate beforehand at Cote. Cote is always good for a pre-show meal, because they are always prompt and the food is reasonable, but it’s popularity means you need to book early. I haven’t been to the Covent Garden restaurant before, because we usually find ourselves in the St Martin’s Lane restaurant, but it is a good option particularly if you are wishing to eat outside. Pray for a clear night and take your chances as there are not many restaurants that offer outdoor seating in London for such a reasonable price.