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Canterbury Operatic Society razor sharp in production of demon barber Sweeney Todd at Marlowe Theatre

Performers from Canterbury Operatic Society gave a razor sharp performance for their production of Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, at the Marlowe Theatre.

The show was packed with the gruesome wit and dark humour which originally made it a hit on Broadway in 1979.

Chris Chedzey as Sweeney Todd with Angela Gallone as Mrs Lovett and Derry Martin as Judge Turpin
Chris Chedzey as Sweeney Todd with Angela Gallone as Mrs Lovett and Derry Martin as Judge Turpin

Chris Chedzey delivered an expert performance in his debut for the society in the lead role as Sweeney Todd. He began his musical theatre career while teaching in a school production of Oliver! some 30 years ago.

On the opening night his depiction of the cut-throat barber captured the cold and calculating desire for revenge, as well as the softer and sensitive moments too.

He was ably accompanied by Angela Gallone who brought the dark humour of the original Stephen Sondheim musical to life with superb comic timing as Mrs Lovett with her awful pies.

Meanwhile there were strong performances by Alice Martin and John Rye who played the loving duo of Johanna and Anthony Hope.

Bettina Walker brought a sense of frivolity in her role as the Beggar Woman, while the society’s chairman Derry Martin played the overbearing and corrupt Judge Turpin.

Completing the main cast was Paul Cook as Beadle Bamford, Jared Checketts as Tobias Ragg, and Robert Francis as Adolfo Pirelli, who helped the audience get into the mood of gruesome Victorian London.

A mention should also be made for the chorus and ensemble, who added splashes of horror and passion of the ordinary folk of the times.

The production was directed by Stephen Cresswell, Steven Wassel and Andrew Granville.

Chairman Derry Martin said the mood among the cast was upbeat after the first night’s performance.

He said: “It’s going well. We were a little apprehensive on the first night because it’s technically a very hard show to produce, so we obviously had a few glitches.

“But after the performance the mood was good, we were very pleased and believe it can only get better.”

The society will be performing Sweeney Todd at the Marlowe Theatre until Saturday, May 3. You can find out more about them by visiting www.canterburyoperatic.co.uk

Tickets to see the show can be purchased from the theatre box office by calling 01227 787787 or visiting www.marlowetheatre.com.

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