THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
When I heard about a Portuguese production of "Sweeney Todd" I didn't believe it would really happen. To begin with, it's unusual to see a musical produced over here. Also, Sondheim's lyrics aren't easy to translate and would probably loose a lot. Last but not least I wondered if there was a stage in Lisbon able to carry such a show. Even facing such problems, the show was produced and opened on October 18th 1997.
Holding my breath, I went to see it (after my first trip to Broadway). I was in for a surprise! The production not only worked, but it's also a very good one. Until then, for me, "Sweeney Todd" was just a great musical on CD (I wasn't able to get tickets to see it at London's National Theatre a few years ago) and one of my favorites Sondheim's scores. From now on, it's also a great stage show, a delicious dark musical.
production is a gigantic step in the history of our theatre. Not only is one of
the very few Broadway musicals that opened here, but one that looks like the real
thing. Most important, it's the first time that a Portuguese audience had the
pleasure of hearing a Sondheim score live, this show revealing this great composer
The person responsible for the success of this production was director João Lourenço. Approaching it as an opera was a great (although not original) idea and he staged it as a dark, very dark, tale of murder and revenge. He was also responsible for the Portuguese adaptation, together with Vera San Payo de Lemos and José Fanha. Although a few changes were made, they respected Hugh Wheeler's book and kept the spirit of dark humor of Sondheim's lyrics.
The cast had great voices, although some of the members were better singers than actors. That's the case of Jorge Vaz de Carvalho who played Sweeney Todd. He had a strong voice and his Todd was sometimes scary (specially when he left the stage and sang menacing "Epiphany" to members of the audience, almost touching them with his razor), but when he wasn't singing his acting lost power. As Mrs. Lovett, Helena Afonso gave us a great and comic performance, turning the numbers "The Worst Pies in London", "A Little Priest" and "By the Sea" in the highlights of the evening. Another big moment was when Henrique Feist, as a perfect Tobias, delivered a powerful "Not While I'm Around".
JORGE VAZ DE CARVALHO HELENA VIEIRA
PEDRO CHAVES HENRIQUE FEIST
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Portuguese version by
João Lourenço, Vera San Payo de Lemos and José Fanha
Directed by João Lourenço
Rated by Jorge: ++++