IT IS one of the most extraordinary shows in music theatre and a big challenge for any society.
But there’s a buzz of excitement around Lindley Church Amateur Operatic Society’s choice of production which makes next week’s performances of Sweeney Todd at the Lawrence Batley Theatre one of the big events of the season.
The show tells the story of Sweeney Todd, Fleet Street’s Demon Barber and from Tuesday this remarkable piece of music theatre will fill the Lawrence Batley Theatre with music, colour and more than a touch of mayhem.
After all, Sweeney Todd is the barber who gives his customer more than a close shave and when he has killed off his clients, sends them to the equally gruesome Mrs Lovatt who grinds up the victims and buries the result in her speciality pies.
The show offers some of Stephen Sondheim’s most successful music and some of the musical stage’s most grisly moments.
Expect quality music and performances and bags of entertainment in a production which sees Jonathan Penton play Sweeney, a role he thinks the round trip from Loughborough is worth it.
Casting such a long distance leading man hasn’t fazed the Lindley society which found itself overwhelmed by actors wanting to pick-up Sweeney Todd’s cut-throat razors.
“We advertised the auditions in the normal way and so many people applied to be in the show that we had to run them over three nights,” said a company spokesman.
“There were nine people who wanted to play Sweeney and we were seeing people who have never auditioned for us before.”
Good news then for a society which is clearly relishing a challenge. Jonathan is partnered by Nicola Brook as Sweeney’s partner in crime, Mrs Lovett.
Both have played the roles before in Leeds. Jonathan has played Sweeney before and loves the score. He gave the most amazing audition.
“We are bringing in new talents and new productions. It is quite a difficult score and is done on an open stage which presents all kinds of challenges for the backstage staff as well as for the performers.”
There’s an experienced production team behind the production with Gilbert Wade as producer and Mark Breen as music director. And that wealth of stagecraft is reflected in the company which includes well-known actors such as Fred Shaw, Gareth Dickinson, Paul Bennett as well as talented singers such as Rachel O’Hare and Susie Nelson.
This is the first time that the show has been seen in Huddersfield and the society’s new chairman, Stephen Jamieson could not be more delighted.
He joined Lindley more than five years ago and so far his leading roles have been on stage play the principal characters in shows such as My Fair Lady, Fiddler On The Roof and Oliver.
Stephen is now taking the lead as chairman and says he is pleased to be putting something back into a society with which he has done so many successful shows. But he will be back on stage in March, playing one of his favourite roles, Henry Higgins, in My Fair Lady. His performance at Cleckheaton Town Hall will be his 10th as Higgins.
Performances of Sweeney Todd begin on Tuesday and run nightly at 7.15pm until Saturday when there is also a matinee at 2.15pm.
Box office is 01484 430528. And if you think Sweeney Todd is different, diary next year’s show from Lindley, the musical Chess. Another first for the society in Huddersfield.