Sweeney Todd

Date 22nd October 2016
Society Woodchurch Players
Venue Woodchurch Memorial Hall
Type of Production Drama
Director Melody Lily Rose & Les Fenton

Report

Author: JOHN W BARNES

A warm welcome from Beth Fenton and the Front of House team got us settled into the front row for this blood curdling revengence melodrama with which most will be familiar. I attended on behalf of Anne Lawson, Regional Representative.

The title of the play was beamed by laser onto the curtains, as were some other locations so that it gave the audience the setting for the scene that followed.  I understand that the sound and lighting team of Tim Nolan, Eliot Gannon and Rocket had devised the laser titling and are to be congratulated for that initiative, and well done with the lighting and sound.

An A516-page programme provided a synopsis of the play, with photographs of the cast members, director’s note together with list of cast and the acts. Whilst a nicely produced programme the black printing on red background did not make it easy to read in subdued lighting; it was unfortunate that the “Woodchurch Community Information Centre” words were diminished by the background picture. Pleased to see advertising from other local NODA societies.

Costumes were appropriate to the period and well thought out for each character.

The opening ballad of Sweeney Todd by the chorus was done well, but in view of the size of the hall I felt personal mikes were unnecessary, with their strong voices. If worn in the future, the best position is for the mike to be near the cheekbone or on centre front hairline.

The set for the Pie Shop and the Barber Shop had been well designed and constructed with the barber’s chair capable of being turned and the victims tipped into the wings (hopefully there was a soft landing behind the blacks!); other scenes were played in front of blacks with use of extended staging. The red glow from stage right was believable as to where the oven fire was located.

Mark Perrian (Sweeney Todd) had a brooding presence who together with Dawn Theresa O’Bryan (Mrs Lovett) played off each other well; each conveyed their characters convincingly, with strong voices and clear diction.  Ben Vincer (Anthony Hope) fulfilled the sea captain role with good balance age-wise to Melody Lily Rose (Johanna) both of whom were believable. Gregory Peters (Judge Turpin) had the gravitas required for the role; Adrian Williams (Beadle) looked menacing and one could believe he looked after his own interests in carrying out his duties. David Richardson (Pirelli) maintained a good accent as a false Italian; Dylan Bryan (Jonas Fogg) was a believable Asylum owner. Daisy Fermor (Tobias Ragg) was excellent in her role of the boy. Lynne Andrews (Beggar Woman) provided the surprise of being the wife of Sweeney Todd whom he thought was dead. Good acting from the members of the chorus when being the other poor souls in the asylum. The final scene when Sweeney Todd realises he’s murdered his own wife and killing himself was very powerful and would have been heightened without a curtain call.

Melody Lily Rose in her directorial debut is to be congratulated for not only directing but also playing one of the central characters.  Congratulations to all involved with the production.