Australia’s pre-eminent leading man of musical theatre, Anthony Warlow, will be joined by one of Australia’s best-known stage and screen performers, the incomparable Gina Riley, when the pair join forces in this spectacular re-imagined concert version of the musical thriller Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Australia’s original Phantom, Warlow is set to play the powerhouse ‘demon barber’ Sweeney Todd, while Gina Riley plays landlady and pie-shop owner Mrs. Lovett in Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s 1979 musical masterpiece. Together they bring high-wattage star power to this unique new concert production playing Sydney and Melbourne in June for six performances only per city.
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s ground-breaking work, the production transports audiences into the atmospheric underbelly of 19th century London as the exiled barber Sweeney Todd enacts revenge on those who have wronged him.
The chance for the consummate Warlow to play the electrifying role is a dream come true. “I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to submerge myself in Stephen Sondheim’s master score for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” says Warlow. “This gift of a role, one I have coveted for so long, has finally arrived. I look forward to adding Mr. Todd to the illustrious canon of characters I have had the privilege of playing over the years.”
Anthony Warlow has lit up the musical theatre, opera and concert stage since his professional debut in Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1980. His stellar career has been rich and varied, including Enjolras in the Australian premiere production of Les Miserables; the title role of the Phantom in the record-breaking The Phantom of the Opera; Archie Craven in The Secret Garden; “Daddy” Warbucks in Annie, in Australia and for his 2023 Broadway debut; and his critically-lauded performance as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.
In 2010, Warlow created the role of Dr Yurii Thiago in the Australian premiere of Doctor Zhivago. In 2015, he starred in Man of La Mancha for the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington for which he won the prestigious Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical. Later that year, Warlow replaced Kelsey Grammar in the Broadway production of Finding Neverland – playing the roles of Charles Frohman and Captain Hook.
The casting of Gina Riley in the tragi-comic role of pie-maker Mrs Lovett is sure to be one of the most deliciously-dazzling theatrical turns of the year. Best known for the hit TV comedy series Kath & Kim, Riley is an accomplished writer, actor, singer, comedian and producer. She recently appeared in Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband for Melbourne Theatre Company. Her musical theatre credits include Matron Mama Morton in Chicago; The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods; Merrily We Roll Along, Falsettos and the role of Janet in The New Rocky Horror Show.
Produced by TEG Life Like Company, known for its acclaimed productions of The Light in the Piazza, City of Angels and Passion, this brand new and innovative staging of Sweeney Todd will reunite a stellar creative team led by Director, Theresa Borg and Musical Director, Vanessa Scammell. With soaring arias of vengeance and yearning, the darkly-comic Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street combines the vocal power and sweep of opera with the aching humanity and truth of theatre.
Sweeney Todd opened on Broadway in 1979 and in London’s West End in 1980. The musical thriller, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by Hugh Wheeler, has seen numerous revivals worldwide by opera and theatre companies as well as Tim Burton’s 2007 film adaptation starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
The story, inspired by a tale serialised in a Penny Dreadful in 1846-47, centres on the unjustly exiled barber who returns to London seeking vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. The road to revenge leads to Mrs Lovett, the proprietor of a failing pie shop, above which, he opens a new barber shop. Desperate times lead Sweeney Todd to plot diabolical schemes against those who have wronged him.
The bold and imaginative new concert production by TEG Life Like Company combines stunning visual effects, exquisite lighting, grisly mystery, menace and the orchestra is at the centre of the razor-sharp action. Fundamentally, this 40th anniversary concert production affirms the musical’s status as a star-power vehicle for resourceful, commanding performers at the top of their game.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street plays Darling Harbour Theatre, ICC Sydney: 13 – 16 June and Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne: 20 – 23 June 2019. Telstra Theatre pre-sale starts Tuesday 19 February. General Public on sale Tuesday 26 February (2.00pm). For more information, visit: www.lifelikecompany.com for details.
Image: Anthony Warlow stars as Sweeney Todd (supplied)