Sweeney Todd: The Victorian Melodrama at Wilton’s Music Hall
The Fiend of Fleet Street sets up shop in Wilton’s Music Hall in a funny, raucous and bloodcurdling show.
It’s Sweeney Todd as you know it – unless you know it as the Sondheim musical, then it’s definitely not Sweeney Todd as you know it. In fact Opera de la Luna are very careful to put in bold writing everywhere that this is NOT the version with the catchy showtunes and the complicated backstory.
This Sweeney Todd is closer to the Penny Dreadful story where the character originates, and the early Victorian stage adaptations that would have been accompanied by full orchestras. He’s still a murderous barber, the bodies still get “disposed of” at Mrs Lovett’s pie shop, and there is still a Johanna; but there are no convoluted familial links or quests for revenge and greater evils. Todd is just a murderer who does it for the money. And in this outing, he happens across a customer with a hugely valuable string of pearls that he simply can’t resist.
Like the Victorian shows, the story is told with orchestral accompaniment, providing a beautiful live soundtrack and SFX. There are a couple of points where the actors have to yell their lines to be heard over the music and the SFX are often half a beat behind the action, but, for the most part, having a live orchestra is a treat. And there is some operatic singing to go along with the instruments, some of which is very impressive and some of which is very funny.
In fact, it’s overall a pretty amusing rendition of Sweeney Todd. There are a few comedic characters, the audience is encouraged to cheer and boo, and there plenty of meta stage jokes like messing with the orchestra so that they slip up on the SFX timings, or actors drawing attention to the fact that they have to leave the stage to “go and get” the other character that they play.
Sweeney Todd has buckets of creep and darkness but there’s also a whole lot of fun and laughter that makes this a super enjoyable evening. Throw in the reasonably priced tickets and Wilton’s Music Hall – one of London’s most beautiful venues – and there is every reason to see this show.
Sweeney Todd: The Victorian Melodrama is at Wilton’s Music Hall from 25th until 29th April 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.