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School Musical - Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

In the final few weeks of term we were transported to the dark side of Victorian London for the sensationalist revenge tragedy set to challenging music that is Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. (School Edition). The company and crew of over 40 students and several staff worked incredibly hard to stage this musical, building a powerful ensemble performance in which several large, set-piece crowd scenes and the hauntingly recurring chorus refrain were conveyed incredibly well.  

Across the six performances, we shared most of the principal roles across two casts of actors: Douglas G and Louis D M both brought a flamboyant extravagance and engaging physicality to their portrayal of the fake Italian barber, Adolpho Pirelli, conveying both the comedy and menace of this role. Equally menacing were Cade L and Mollie P-I in their role as Fogg, the bullying owner of a mental asylum. 

With so many others acting menace and madness, it can be hard to convey goodness and love, so it is greatly to their credit that our two pairs of young lovers playing Anthony and Johanna were so effective. Max C and Ava E W brought an earnest intensity and vocal strength to their performances, whilst Archie B and Renie G conveyed hopeful innocence particularly well. Lottie I had a brilliant cameo in a well-choreographed moment of stylised loss of innocence – the catalyst for the bloody revenges that punctuate the story. Equally the two actors playing Tobias Ragg were able to embody ‘trusting urchin’ exceptionally, with Amelie W capturing the character’s descent into madness particularly well and Toby L conveying the lively irrepressibility of a street hawker. 

The hypocritical ‘vultures of the law’ that are Beadle Bamford and Judge Turpin were played exceptionally well by the four actors taking these roles: as Beadle Bamford, Jamie S brought an assertive stage presence, whilst Lena-Sofia R conveyed the role with sinuously physical charm. Matteo C managed to capture the balance of false piety and lasciviousness of Judge Turpin, whilst Magnus K conveyed both forceful authority and an excellent moment of piercing realisation before his death. The mental wreckage of their principal victim, the Beggar Woman, was conveyed brilliantly over all the nights by Kira V, whose pitiful wails and mad giggling were hugely effective. 

The central duo of Victorian Entrepreneurs, who combine their skills to market delectable pies from unsuspecting human meat, were brought to life by three fantastic performances. Both Nyasha W and Betty J were engaging in their portrayals of Mrs Lovett, with Nyasha’s performance having lots of subtle touches of characterisation and dramatic precision, whilst Betty brought a lively physicality and some deft and knowing comic touches to her performance. In the title role, Thomas E was a force of nature: his powerful vocal presence and evident command of the music was matched with a brooding intensity in his acting and a wild energy that gave to the final series of vengeful deaths a ferociously manic desperation. 

Behind the scenes, special mention must be made of Jamie K, whose calm assurance and skills as a sound technician were invaluable in the production. 

Both the Musical and Theatrical Directors of the show, Mr Watson and Mr Jenkins, would agree that the cast and crew were brilliant to work with, bringing talent and commitment together to create the intangible magic of theatre.