John Cooper Studio Theatre, 41 Monkgate, York
"Frankly, you should attend the tale of Sweeney Todd" ... that was the verdict of York Press arts critic Charles Hutchinson on the second show in Pick Me Up Theatre's Summer Sondheim season
Sweeney returns to London as a convict from Australia seeking revenge against those who separated him from his wife and child.
He meets Mrs Lovett, who owns a shop that sells "the worst pies in London", and recognises him by his real name Benjamin Barker. She tells him his wife poisoned herself and his daughter is now the ward of the warped judge who sentenced him.
Intent on revenge, he sets up his barber business above Mrs Lovett’s shop and the two hit on the idea of turning his clients into ingredients for Mrs Lovett's pies.
The original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd and many since have been epic in scale but Sondheim's orginial vision was for a much smaller 'chamber' piece: "I wanted it to be done as a small piece because I wanted to scare people."
Pick Me Up went back to Sondheim's original intentions and staged the show in the intimate
John Cooper Studio Theatre at 41 Monkgate in York – which was transformed by director Robert
Readman for the five-star-rated production of Sondheim's Assassins and has been adapated again to match the dark dramatic mood of Sweeney Todd.
The cast is led by Nick Lewis (last seen in Pick Me Up's One Man, Two Governors) as Sweeney and Susannah Baines (The Witch in Pick Me Up's production of Sondheim's Into The Woods) as Mrs Lovett.
Fresh from their roles in the run of Assassins are Simon Radford as Tobias, Sam Hird as Anthony, Craig Kirby as Judge Turpin, and Mark Hird as The Beadle.
Maren Fagerås Nævdal – Fantine in Les Miserables earlier this year – is Johanna, Claire Pulpher (Jack's Mother in Into The Woods) is the Beggar Woman, and Robert Fisher is Pirelli.
Ben David Papworth makes his Pick Me Up debut as musical director, having won acclaim for the musical quality of a number of York productions in recent years.
5-13 August 2016
Music and lyrics by
Adam Moore Tech 247
Robert Readman, Adam Moore
Teresa and Jane Carr
Maren Fagerås Nævdal
Katie Wood, Iain Harrison
Photos by Matthew Kitchen Photography