Latest Review – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street [Lunt-Fontanne Theatre]


Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, New York 

Currently Booking Until Sunday 14th January 2024

Following a number of concert versions and intimate, stripped-back productions in recent years, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s deliciously dark 1979 masterpiece, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, now returns to the Broadway stage in a hugely-anticipated and full-blooded new revival helmed by Tony Award-winner Thomas Kail (In the Heights, Hamilton) – the show’s first full-scale revival since 2005 – and it is a production that has certainly been worth waiting for.

With a huge 26-piece orchestra playing Jonathan Tunick’s classic orchestrations, Kail’s thrilling new production gives audiences the chance to experience Sondheim’s epic, Tony Award®-winning score in all its chilling glory – as it was performed in the original production – for the first time since that production closed in June 1980.

Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford lead a killer (pun fully intended!) cast in this dark, cinematic, and gloriously gruesome revival that fully immerses its audience in the corrupt and bloody world of Victorian London.

Gaten Matarazzo, Annaleigh Ashford, Josh Groban, Nathan Salstone and the company of the 2023 Broadway production of SWEENEY TODD, Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

Groban’s Sweeney is less outwardly angry and manic than previous interpretations and, instead, it’s an outwardly more low-key, human approach that suppresses the character’s emotions and bottles them up until breaking point. Groban’s expression is pained. Dialogue is snarled  more than shouted. The result is a significantly more powerful transition when Sweeney’s bloodlust begins to surface. As expected, the vocals are beautiful and give you a greater appreciation for Sondheim’s more heartfelt numbers.

Annaleigh Ashford is truly exceptional as the show-stealing Mrs. Lovett and proves the perfect accompaniment to Groban’s demonic barber. Ashford’s characterisation is sublime and she brings so much quality and understanding to the role. Her comic timing is flawless and her delivery pitch perfect (forgiving the old Cockney accent slip-up!), yet for all Mrs. Lovett’s frenetic energy and larger-than-life persona, Ashford’s warmth and tenderness never fails to shine through when required, particularly in the more intimate scenes with Tobias. Truly a Lovett for the ages!

Jordan Fisher as Anthony, Maria Bilbao as Johanna, Jamie Jackson as Judge Turpin, Gaten Matarazzo as Tobias, Ruthie Ann Miles as The Beggar Woman, Nicholas Christopher as the scheming Pirelli, and a fabulous John Rapson as the slimy and devious Beadle Bamford round-out an outstanding principle cast.

There is nothing quite like hearing a really good ensemble sing as a company, and nowhere is that better demonstrated that in this production. The numerous reprises of The Ballad of Sweeney Todd never fail to raise the hairs on the back of the neck and the chorus are faultless.

Nicholas Christopher (center) and the company of the 2023 Broadway production of SWEENEY TODD, Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

With rich, painterly scenic design by Mimi Lien, exquisite lighting by Natasha Katz and a slick, fluid staging by Kail and choreographer Steven Hoggett, this hugely immersive new Sweeney is arguably the season’s finest new production.

Hearing Sondheim’s spine-tingling score (so riveting, so intricate) played by the full orchestra, as it was originally intended, and with those original orchestrations, under the musical supervision of Alex Lacamoire, feels very special indeed. As always with Sondheim, the lyrics are so cleverly crafted and the music just perfect, but they are rarely heard like this.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre is an unmissable, landmark production that has set a new bar for any future revivals that follow.

Running Time: 2 hours and 45-minutes (approx.), including one 15-minute interval.

Recommended for ages 12 and up. Children under the age of 4 are not permitted in the theatre. Contains adult language, violence and elements of gore.

Currently Booking Until Sunday 14th January 2024

For more information, and to book tickets, please Click Here.

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