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 the final performance on 12 April. 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 to £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.
Speaking at the press conference at the London Coliseum, 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, it’s like a dream coming true. And of course to sing with such a talent as Bryn is as good as it ever gets. ”
Asked if she had been nervous when she made her New York debut, she replied: “I had never been so frightened. I am hoping there will be a slight improvement in London, that I can manage the fear without the nausea! I believe it is important to keep leaping into the dark, to not allow your work to become ‘samey’. I would love to do a longer run in a show at some time in the future, I am sure that will happen.”
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.”
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.
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. In 1991 Terfel made his English National Opera debut in the title role in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.
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. Her other musical theatre credits include Me and My Girl, which she appeared in with Robert Lindsay in 1984.
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. In 1995 her adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, won several awards for its screenplay including the Academy Award.
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.
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. His other Philharmonic collaborations include the stage and film versions of Sondheim: The Birthday Concert! and the Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts 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.
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 for the next five years (including West End and international transfers). Further productions to be staged as part of this partnership will be announced in due course.
Grade explained that this arrangement would result not just in concert or semi-staged musicals, but in full productions too. He added that he was proud to be part of bringing the London Coliseum back into the musical theatre world.