Reviewed by Nick Rowling for The Croydon Advertiser
A Tasty Slice of Panto Pie
In their production of “The Sweeney Todd Shock ‘n’ Roll Show” Theatre Workshop Coulsdon avoided emphasis of the bloodier elements of the story, and presented a family show which had a little of everything. An amazing hat-trick with audience participation, a patriotic song backed by the Union Jack, a dame-like Queen Victoria, and a faithful dog which won everyone’s sympathy were all on offer and as pantomime fare it was well received. Sweeney Todd, here an essentially pantomime villain, was played by Richard Lloyd who gave easily the best performance of the evening. He had a strong voice which extended melodically to his songs, and a commanding personality with which he skilfully manipulated the audience’s reactions. He was given rather colourless support by Lesley Argles as Mrs Lovett, his partner in crime, who could have made far more of her character’s nastier elements. Much better was Christine Cooper’s engaging Tobias Stoutheart, Sweeney’s orphan apprentice who uncovers his dastardly deeds. Her duet with Richard Lloyd, each singing to the audience their separate impressions, was one of the show’s vocal highlights. Chris Argles’ production was well staged and had impressive scenes. The dancing and singing in the madhouse, the Pastriacci Pie Machine, and the dwarf policemen were all well presented. Sweeney’s barber shop, however, did seem unnecessarily vast and could probably have been more effectively confined to half the stage. Also the Gin Palace scene was far too subdued and needed more boozy hubbub from the chorus. Simeon Dawes and Lee Wilkinson were amiable Jack Tars, and both enhanced the production’s level of singing ability. Also notable in supporting roles were Karen Ellison’s Madhouse keeper (whose musical direction of the loonies was entertaining), Tim Young as the magician’s incompetent apprentice and Tim Warner’s appealing canine.
Paul M Ford
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