Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel in SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET


Lonny Price will direct Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson in Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, A Musical Thriller, the first production in a major new long term partnership between English National Opera (ENO) and the GradeLinnit Company

The strictly limited run of 13 performances at ENO’s London Coliseum begins on 30 March 2015 with press night on 31 March and final performance on 12 April 2015. The ENO orchestra, conducted by David Charles Abell, will appear on stage alongside the cast in this semi-staged production which was originally produced by the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center earlier this year, with orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick.  Further casting will be announced shortly.  

Tickets for Sweeney Todd are £10 - £125, with 300 seats available at £10 for every performance.  Priority booking opens at midday today (16 September 2014) and public booking opens at 10am on 23 September 2014.

Emma Thompson said: I can't believe I am being given the opportunity to perform this extraordinary piece once again - this time with the ENO orchestra.  And of course to sing with such a talent as Bryn is as good as it ever gets.”

Bryn Terfel said:  “Emma and I had a great time performing together in New York and the role itself is such a pleasure to play.  So I’m really looking forward to working with Emma and ENO to bring the barber to life again in London’s largest theatre.”

Set in Victorian London, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street tells the story of the eponymous barber who seeks vengeance on what he sees as a merciless world by murdering his customers and, with the help of his landlady, the romantically inclined Mrs. Lovett, bakes their bodies into meat pies, which are fed to London’s avid and unknowing populace. Sondheim’s score pays homage to the music of Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann. Highlights include “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” “Not While I’m Around,” “A Little Priest,” and “Pretty Women.”

With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler from an adaptation by Christopher BondSweeney Todd received its world premiere at the Uris Theatre on Broadway in March 1979, directed by Harold Prince and starring Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury.  The show received eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score, as well as eleven Drama Desk Awards and the Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical. 

Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel (Sweeney Todd) has performed in all the great opera houses in the world, and is especially recognised for his portrayals of Wotan in Wagner’s Ring Cycle which he has most recently performed at The Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House, and the title roles in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Verdi’s Falstaff.  He first sang the title role in Sweeney Todd in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production in 2002 and subsequently sang the role in semi-staged performances at the South Bank Centre in London in 2007.  Other highlights of Terfel’s performances include Hans Sachs in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von N├╝rnberg for Welsh National Opera and the hosting of Brynfest, a four-day event at London’s Southbank Centre held as part of the 2012 Summer Olympic celebrations.  Terfel is also known as a concert artist, with past performances including the Royal Variety Performance, Last Night of the Proms, the opening ceremony of the Wales Millennium Centre and a performance in New York’s Central Park with tenor Andrea Bocelli and the New York Philharmonic. He has given recitals in the major cities of the world, and for nine years he hosted his own festival in Faenol, North Wales. A Grammy, Classical BRIT and Gramophone award winner, Terfel’s discography includes operas by Mozart, Wagner and Richard Strauss and more than ten solo CDs.  His most recent album is Homeward Bound, recorded with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  In 1991 Terfel made his English National Opera debut in the title role in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.  In 2003 Bryn Terfel was awarded a CBE for services to opera in the Queen’s New Year Honours list, and in 2006 he was awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music by Queen Elizabeth.

Award-winning actor, writer and producer Emma Thompson returns to the London stage for the first time in 25 years to play Mrs. Lovett.  She last performed in the West End in 1989 in Look Back In Anger, directed by Judi Dench.  This acclaimed production saw Thompson’s London Coliseum debut, when a fundraising performance was held at ENO’s home theatre.  Thompson’s 1992 portrayal of Margaret Schlegel in the Merchant-Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster’s Howards End earned her numerous Best Actress awards including the BAFTA, the Los Angeles Film Critics Award, the New York Film Critics Award,  the Golden Globe and the Academy Award.  In 1995 her adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, directed by Ang Lee, won several awards for its screenplay including the Academy Award, with her performance earning her a BAFTA.  This summer Thompson has completed filming The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson opposite Robert Carlyle and Ray Winstone as well as A Walk in the Woods, opposite Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, directed by Ken Kwapis.  In March of this year she portrayed ‘Mrs. Lovett’ in the New York Philharmonic’s semi-staged production of Sweeney Todd , making her New York stage debut.  Most recently she starred as P.L. Travers in Disney’s feature film Saving Mr. Banks.  Thompson’s other film credits include The Tall Guy, Henry V, Dead Again, Peter’s Friends, Much Ado About Nothing, The Remains of the Day, In the Name of the Father, Junior, Carrington, The Winter Guest, Primary Colors, Wit, Angels in America, Imagining Argentina, Love Actually,numerous Harry Potter films, Stranger Than Fiction, Last Chance Harvey, Brave, Men in Black 3 and the Nanny McPhee films, for which she also wrote the screenplays and served as Executive Producer.  Her recent television roles include BBC Two’s Song of Lunch and Sprout/SKY ARTS’s Walking the Dogs.  To mark Peter Rabbit’s 110th anniversary, Thompson was commissioned to write a 24th tale — the first time Frederick Warne, the publisher, has added a title to the Beatrix Potter series. The resulting book, The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit, was published in September 2012, and in October the following year Penguin published Thompson’s The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit.   This month, Penguin will also publish her The Spectacular Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Director Lonny Price has a long professional association with Stephen Sondheim.  He directed the stage and film versions of the New York Philharmonic’s production of Sondheim’s Company starring Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone and Stephen Colbert.  His other Philharmonic collaborations include the stage and film versions ofSondheim: The Birthday Concert! for which he received a 2011 Emmy Award, and the Live from Lincoln Centerbroadcasts of Camelot, Candide and Sweeney Todd.  In addition he directed the Emmy Award–winning production of Sondheim’s Passion starring Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald and Michael Cerveris which was broadcast on Live From Lincoln Center and he won an Emmy for his 2001 production of Sweeney Todd with the San Francisco Symphony.   His Broadway credits include110 in the Shade, “Master Harold” ... and the Boys, Sally Marr and Her Escorts (which he co-wrote with Joan Rivers and Erin Sanders), Urban Cowboy and A Class Act.  His feature film, Master Harold” ... and the Boys, received the Best Director of a Feature Film award from the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.  In addition he has directed episodes of ABC’sDesperate Housewives and CBS’s 2 Broke Girls.

English National Opera is the UK’s leading producer of world-class opera sung in English, and stages more new work and contemporary opera than any other UK opera company.  It works with the best talent from across the arts and creative industries to create distinctive, highly theatrical productions that are seen by audiences across the world, thanks to the company’s partnerships with its most celebrated opera houses and cinema transmissions by ENO Screen. ENO champions British and British-trained talent by placing it at the heart of its performances and provides unique development programmes for singers, musicians, composers and conductors. Through all its activities ENO aims to make its work enjoyable, accessible and affordable for as many people as possible

The GradeLinnit Company was founded by Michael Grade and Michael Linnit in 2008, having worked closely together on various projects over many decades.  In partnership with English National Opera the GradeLinnit Company will develop new productions of the finest musicals.  This new partnership will harness the producing and technical teams at ENO and the commercial expertise of Grade and Linnit to produce world class music theatre in London’s largest theatre, ENO’s London Coliseum, and beyond.  Further productions to be staged as part of this partnership will be announced in due course.

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