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Review | Sweeney Todd - KMTC Production | Northwich Memorial Court | 18/05/2023

Sweeney Todd is often regarded as one of the Stephen Sondheim’s best work. Perhaps most suited for musical theatre connoisseurs, bringing this to local audiences at Northwich’s Memorial Court was always going to be a risk. However, to achieve great things, risks sometimes need to be taken, and this production by KMTC is nothing short of incredible.

When entering the auditorium, blood splattered newspaper clippings adorn the walls with front of house staff in blood-stained aprons direct you to your seats. In front of the more traditional tiered seating are dark wooden tables of four, with those lucky enough to be sat at one being treated to a more immersive experience. In front of the stage are 5 long steps spanning the entire width of the stage, allowing actors to shift between being on stage and amongst the audience. With running drainage pipes, disused crates and even a London streetlamp, we are instantly transported to Fleet Street in 1785.

Immersive is the current theatrical buzz word, with acclaimed west end productions relying on this to sell tickets. I must admit I was nervous at the prospect of this being adopted by local community theatre, but with Ben Ireson returning to direct I needn’t have worried. Throughout the show the ensemble weave through the audience, pulling them effortlessly into Sweeney’s world; from masked parties to munching on ‘the worst pies in London’. Where the immersion worked best was in the scene at the Asylum. Joining each table sat an asylum patient, rocking whilst menacingly looking around as they sang. Locking eye contact intensely whilst acting through song made those sat at tables wonderfully uncomfortable in the best possible way. It was hard to know where to look with so much going on.

Joel Merry encompassed protagonist Sweeney Todd, carefully building his sinister character throughout the show. Kelly Walton had the unenviable task of taking on Mrs Lovett, a role for which Angela Lansbury won a Tony and Imelda Staunton an Olivier. Walton took the challenge and completely knocked it out of the park, whilst bringing a warmth to the character. Their chemistry on stage was palpable, they were utterly captivating to watch and it was a joy to listen to their incredible vocals.

This show is heavier on the music than most, which is fine when the music is this good. Act one closer ‘A Little Priest’ was a clear standout, showcasing Merry & Walton’s ability to make the audience laugh through song alone. The magic of the show is with the outstanding ensemble and the various reprises of ‘The Ballad of Sweeney Todd’ were incredibly powerful.

Particular mention should go to the 19-person strong orchestra, conducted by Michael J Scott. Dwarfing many west end orchestras, the KMTC orchestra sounded truly sublime and took the show to a haunting new level. The lighting, particularly the use of red to denote sinister elements, was really effective in creating atmosphere throughout. No stone was left unturned in making this show something really special.

With blood spilling special effects, this gruesomely entertaining show will have you gripped from beginning to end. KMTC prove once again that they are the gold standard for community theatre in this razor-sharp production. Sweeney Todd is on at Northwich Memorial Court until 20/05/2023. See below for booking information:

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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