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Sweeney Todd a cut above for St Albans Operatic Society

PUBLISHED: 11:32 24 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 06 May 2010

FOR the St Albans Operatic Society the biggest problem facing them with their production of Stephen Sondheim s Sweeney Todd was that it simply does not attract audiences. But in spite of that, the show at the Alban Arena last week was simply one of the be

FOR the St Albans Operatic Society the biggest problem facing them with their production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd was that it simply does not attract audiences.

But in spite of that, the show at the Alban Arena last week was simply one of the best they have ever presented.

In every way this was a truly memorable production from its excellent set and costumes to the outstanding performances by the central characters and excellent support from chorus and orchestra members.

For those of us who know their performing ability, there was little doubt that with husband and wife team Matthew and Charlotte Gregory the show would be a success. Both have tremendous singing and acting abilities which they used to the full in this extremely dark, yet often humorous, show.

Yet it was the performance of others which turned this production into the triumph it became.

Top of the list after Matthew and Charlotte was Colin Mcleod as the malevolent Judge Turpin who gave a truly chilling performance, particularly in his dark first act solo spot.

Throughout the show Julian Wathen as the young and in-love sailor Anthony Hope added a sparkle, particularly when playing opposite Penny Grey as Johanna, Sweeney Todd's daughter and Judge Turpin's ward.

Graham Jackson added a good sparkle of humour as Pirelli, the rival barber and Daniel Bogod's portrayal of Tobias Ragg, the somewhat simple assistant of Pirelli, also added greatly to the show.

Equally, Russell Sreatton as Beadle Bamford and Sue Ackroyd as the beggar woman gave fine performances and throughout the exquisitely dressed chorus added a final boost.

Blessed with a pit orchestra of 21 good musicians, musical director Philip Joslin did a tremendous job with the somewhat difficult score and director Alan Cox deserves hearty congratulations for this highly polished and exciting production.

JOHN MANNING

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