Sweeney Todd
WINNER - Best Musical (BATS)
WINNER - Best Actor in a Musical (BATS) - Steve Benson
Nomination - Best Actress in a Musical (BATS) - Allison Smith
Nomination - Best Musical (NODA)
Nomination - Best Musical Director - Ben Smith (NODA)
Nomination - Best Actor in a Musical - Steve Benson (NODA)
24th - 29th April 2006
Photographs by John Tustin
Production Officials
Director Nora Howcroft
Musical Director Ben Smith
Sweeney Todd Steve Benson
Mrs Lovett Allison Smith
Judge Turpin David Reeves
Beggar Woman Eileen Reeves
Anthony James Eccleshare
Johanna Lindsay Farnworth
Beadle Mike Fallon
Pirelli David Witt
Tobias Joel Cheetham
Fogg Mike Bailey
Sammie Banks, Jane Bickerstaffe, Hazel Bumby, Ann Coleman, Tom Keefe, Alan Hitchen, Dave McGreavy, Jill Marsden, Barbara Martin, Gill Pollitt, Glenys Poole, Ruth Prescott, Mary Pycroft, Joyce Walters, Elizabeth Williams, Janet Witt, Adrienne Wormald
  • Sweeney Todd Sweeney Todd
  • Mrs Lovett Mrs Lovett
  • Sweeney and Anthony arrive in London Sweeney and Anthony arrive in London
  • Judge Turpin and The Beadle Judge Turpin and The Beadle
  • Pirelli and Tobias Pirelli and Tobias
  • The Beggar Woman The Beggar Woman
  • Johanna and Anthony Johanna and Anthony
  • Mrs Lovett and Sweeney Mrs Lovett and Sweeney
  • Pirelli claims he is the best barber in London Pirelli claims he is the best barber in London
  • Tobias Tobias
  • Customers enjoy the pies Customers enjoy the pies
  • Sweeney dispatches another victim Sweeney dispatches another victim
  • Mrs Lovett and Sweeney Mrs Lovett and Sweeney
  • Mrs Lovett and Sweeney Mrs Lovett and Sweeney
  • Fogg attacks Johanna at the Asylum Fogg attacks Johanna at the Asylum
  • Anthony interrupts Sweeney's revenge on Judge Turpin Anthony interrupts Sweeney's revenge on Judge Turpin
  • Judge Turpin, Sweeney, Mrs Lovett and Tobias Judge Turpin, Sweeney, Mrs Lovett and Tobias
  • The Company The Company

  • Bolton Evening News Review
  • NODA North West News Review
This is the first time this show has appeared in Bolton, and no-one who sees it will forget the experience.

Director Nora Howcroft has taken Stephen Sondheim's ferociously inventive 1979 musical and created a taut, seductive classic that gripped and enthralled a first night crowd. The show never stints on the music's drama, intricacy or sheer beauty, and the company handle the technically dizzying show perfectly, driven by a flawless accompaniment led by 14 year-old Musical Director Ben Smith.

As barber Sweeney, Steve Benson gives a rendition that is both heartbreaking and terrifying, consumed by rage and madness. Allison Smith's piemaker Mrs Lovett is a vaudevillian delight. James Eccleshare as love-struck sailor Anthony simply gets better every time he is on stage, and his star quality is plain to see, and Lindsay Farnworth's Johanna, Todd's long-lost daughter is a gorgeous shaft of light in this darkest of shows.

There is superb support from David Reeves as Judge Turpin and Eileen Reeves as a Beggar with a secret. Mike Fallon's Beadle is similarly marvellous and young Joel Cheetham is a cracking, assured Tobias. On every level this is an unforgettable, ground-breaking production. Forgive the pun, but this show is a feast.

Nigel McFarlane
This challenging Sondheim musical needs talent, dedication and enthusiasm for any company to stage successfully this fiendishly difficult show and Walmlsey had all this in spades.

Sondheim is, of course, an acquired taste and not everyone's cup of tea, or meat pies for that matter! However, Nora Howcroft's production of this dark musical drama would certainly give the audience a taste of what this composer is all about: melodic music, heroes, heroines and pretty costumes do not come into the equation. The bottom line is, was the piece well done, was it enjoyable entertainment? And for me this production was just that.

Steve Benson gave a powerfully "dark" performance as Sweeney Todd; strong emotions, excellent vocally and good facial expressions as he sought revenge for past injustices. Allison Smith was equally good vocally and brought a wry sense of humour to the character of Mrs Lovett as her "meat pie" empire flourished. The young lovers, Lindsay Farnworth (Johanna) and James Eccleshare (Anthony) were well matched in both acting and singing ability.

David Reeves turned in a strong performance as the menacing Judge, as did Mike Fallon as the conniving Beadle. Eileen Reeves was brilliant as the deranged Beggar Woman; David Witt was an extravagant Pirelli; Mike Bailey gave an assured performance as Fogg whilst Joel Cheetham was excellent in the demanding role of Tobias - not an easy part to portray for one so young. All in all an exceedingly strong principal line-up.

I must congratulate the production team on the chorus discipline and particularly the 15 year-old Musical Director Ben Smith for his exceptional control of the orchestra.

Technically this was a superb production with the stage crew, led by David Millett, creating a wonderfully "dark" setting for the piece. This was further enhanced by excellent lighting from John Cocking and Norman Bowers and sound from Derek Bramwell. Props and costumes also played their part in what was an excellent piece of theatre - very well done indeed.

Glyn Neary

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