Musical of the Month: Sweeney Todd

Julia Stanski, Editor


If you’ve ever heard someone say that they don’t like musicals because ‘They’re too happy’-  make them watch “Sweeney Todd”. It will cure them of that attitude like nothing else.

Extremely dark, remarkably gory and exquisitely written, this masterpiece by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler is definitely not for the whole family; probably only “Les Misérables” has a higher body count.  In short, it follows a deranged barber and his neighbour who murder people, chop them up and sell them in meat pies.  But it’s done with the magic Sondheim touch. Every character is psychologically complex and ingeniously developed. The music is by turns harrowing, beautiful and terrifying, and always intensely so. The story is gripping and fast-paced, with a surprising amount of comic relief; despite the subject matter, this is undeniably a fun show.  There’s an absolutely brilliant concert version of the show starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson; the Johnny Depp movie version does not do it justice.

If you’re prepared for an emotionally exhausting experience of gloriously well-written theatre, plus one of the best plot-twist endings ever, spend some time this exam break with “Sweeney Todd”.

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