Sweeney Todd finally comes off for Horsham-based HAODS this week as they take their production of Sondheim’s gruesome musical into the Capitol (April 8-12).
As director Yvonne Chadwell explains, trying to get the rights to stage Sondheim can be hard when you are within 30 miles of London.
“A couple of times before we have had Sondheim shows planned but couldn’t then do them because the shows had gone into London. We had Sweeney Todd booked last year, but then it was very successful in Chichester and went into London. We hadn’t started work on it, but we had booked it and then couldn’t do it, and the same thing happened with Follies.”
But persistence has paid off - persistence to tackle a challenge.
“From a singing point of view, Sweeney Todd is certainly very challenging. It’s technically hard. From our membership’s point of view, it really pushes them to learn the music, because the music is slightly different. We have done Superstar and Chess in the past, and this is hard.”
“Not harder necessarily, but differently hard. Sondheim writes differently, but once you get your head around the tunes, it makes sense.”
With the successful CFT production in recent memory and also the Johnny Depp film, the onus is on HAODS to come up with something equally good, Yvonne says: “We are amateurs, but we try to put on a professional show, and this is a very deep show. It makes people think, not just the key characters, but also the ensemble. People need to think who they are, what they are reacting to, what they are doing on the London streets. They have to take part in the more gritty elements of the show. It’s about murdering people. But they have also got to contend with the fun aspects. There is a lot of black comedy in the way it is written.”
People who have seen the stage show or the film before can use it as a tool to understanding, Yvonne says: “But this won’t be a cloned version of what people have seen before in the Johnny Depp movie or on stage or even the Angela Lansbury version. Every production looks at a different aspect of the show, and we have tried to do it a little bit differently.”
Tickets from the Capitol.