JOHN LAWSON There are moments in every reviewer's life when you run out of superlatives.Epic, spine-chilling, deeply dramatic, darkly comedic, this show is peopled by a cast of young talent which is surely beyond compare anywhere in the country.
There are moments in every reviewer's life when you run out of superlatives.
Epic, spine-chilling, deeply dramatic, darkly comedic, this show is peopled by a cast of young talent which is surely beyond compare anywhere in the country.
Stephen Sondheim has achieved something truly fiendish in bringing the Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the stage.
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In keeping with the heinous activities being perpetrated by the homicidal hairdresser and his pie-making moll, he has written the Norfolk Youth Music Theatre cast a score that is almost unsingable.
Having worked alongside Leonard Bernstein on West Side Story, he clearly took note of the master's interwoven harmonies and dischordant interplay to produce music operatic in its richness, throat-numbing in its range, and ear-bafflingly complex in its construction.
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It would tax the most experienced of voices – yet here were a cast of teenagers tackling it with confidence and no little style.
The confidence was epitomised by the stunning diction and projection of every character who stepped forth and hit the back of the theatre with a power and conviction borne out of director Adrian Connell's careful tutelage.
And at the forefront were David Thaxton and Charlie McClean as the barber and pie-maker. Thaxton's voice and stage presence are nothing short of sensational – he commands the stage in the style of a young Colm Wilkinson, while McClean displays the sort of comic timing and believability to rival Mme Thenardier in Les Miserables.
It is suggested in the programme that McClean is set to put stagework on the back-burner to concentrate on being a singer/songwriter but I would argue that there is no way her remarkable talent should be lost to the world of musical theatre.
Like Thaxton, she is a true star in the making.
Among the supporting cast, Alice Milton brings an unusual but haunting voice to the role of Sweeney's long-lost daughter Johanna, Tom Clarke is a suitably seedy Judge Turpin and young Matt Williamson goes from strength to strength as the unwitting accomplice, Toby.
Andrew Grand's orchestra, also all teenagers, brings amazing quality and support to their efforts.
For heaven's sake, fill the Norwich Playhouse nightly – this fantastic production deserves it.