Combining violent and erotic horror with social commentary and a poignant love story, Stephen Sondheim’s musical retelling of the legendary fable of the murderous ‘Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ – part macbre melodrama, part Grand Guignol blood-fest – is by turns shocking, intensely moving and brutally funny.
With its compelling book by Hugh Wheeler, combined with Sondheim’s dazzling lyrics and glorious score, Sweeney Todd is one of the great theatrical creations. It has long been on New Theatre’s wish-list, so they’re really excited that it’s coming to the New Theatre stage as the last production of 2014 season.
Sydney is in the midst of a surge of creativity when it comes to independently produced musicals, with companies such as The Hayes Theatre Co, Luckiest Productions, Wooden Horse and Squabbalogic bringing to life a treasure trove of riskier, less frequently produced work and diversifying the theatrical landscape.
New Theatre is proud to be part of this renaissance, with a history of mounting chamber musical productions, including Alex Harding’s Only Heaven Knows, Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret, Sondheim’s Into the Woods and Assassins, Nick Enright and Terence Clarke’s The Venetian Twins and this year’s Mardi Gras show Privates on Parade.
Director Giles Gartrell-Mills moved to Sydney from London in 2013. He trained in the UK at the Oxford School of Drama and then worked for a number of years as an actor, writer and director in London and throughout the UK, including at Shakespeare’s Globe with the Read Not Dead Theatre Company, as well as writing several short films, plays and a feature film based in his family home in south Wales.
In 2008/9, he was director-in-residence at the award-winning Union Theatre in Southward, and his directing credits include Caligula (Time Out London Critics’ Choice), Jekyll & Hyde, The Two of Us, It’s Behind You! and The Dark and Cavernous Walls. Giles worked as assistant director on Spring Awakening and a production of Sweeney Todd which won both the Time Out London and Evening Standard Critics’ Choice Awards.
“I have a great affinity with the London environs and origins of the Sweeney Todd character which I’m looking to explore in this production,” says Giles.
The eponymous role of ‘Sweeney Todd’ is being played by Justin Cotta. A graduate of NIDA, signed with Sony as a singer/songwriter and three-times Junior Australian National Classical Piano Champion, Justin’s recent credits include Glengarry Glen Ross (Melbourne Theatre Co), King Lear and Romeo and Juliet (Bell Shakespeare), Fool For Love (Belvoir) and Before/After (Sydney Theatre Co), as well as an ongoing role in Home and Away.
Justin has twice been nominated for Sydney Theatre Awards: Best Supporting Actor in an Independent Production for The Removalists (Rock Surfers) in 2013; and Best Actor in a Leading Role in an Independent Production for Syncopation (Critical Stages) in 2012.
Playing his partner-in-crime, the love-struck, pie-baking ‘Mrs Lovett’ is Lucy Miller, last seen at New Theatre in Wolf Lullaby. Earlier this year, Lucy won acclaim for her performance in Scenes from an Execution (Old Fitzroy) and has previously appeared on our stage as ‘Mrs Lusty’ in The Ham Funeral and the Australian premiere of Crushed by Melita Rowston.
Director: Giles Gartrell-Mills Cast: Josh Anderson, Erin Bogart, Briony Burnes, Jamie Collette, Justin Cotta, Daisy Cousens, Laurence Coy, Courtney Glass, Michael Jones, Jamie Leigh Johnson, Lucy Miller, Carl Olsen, Steven Ritchie, Chelsea Taylor, Aimee Timmins, Simon Ward
Musical Director: Liam Kemp Choreographer: Trent Kidd Assistant Director: Sam Thomas Costume Designer: Brodie Simpson Lighting Designer: Liam O’Keefe Production Manager/Stage Manager: Jo Jewitt
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown
Season: 18 November – 20 December 2014
For more information, visit: www.newtheatre.org.au for details.
Image: Lucy Millar as Mrs Lovett and Justin Cotta as Sweeney Todd – photo by Bob Seary