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Curve's Todd squad cuts the mustard ; stageLizz Brain catches up with Paul Kerryson to find out more about his latest production

July 4, 2013


Stephen Sondheim's musical comedy-thriller about the legendary demon barber of Fleet Street is a challenging one for performers.

Musically and lyrically complex, Sweeney Todd requires a fine balancing act from performers to tread the line between the dark humour and underlying tragedy of the piece, in which an escaped wrongly-accused convict returns home to be told his wife is dead and his daughter living with the man who imprisoned him.

He changes his name and becomes a barber, hell-bent on revenge.

But as his rage and the number of his victims increases, what can he do with the bodies? Step forward Mrs Lovett, whose pie shop is suffering a shortage of meat...

Curve director Paul Kerryson last staged Sweeney Todd at the former Haymarket Theatre, with Dave Willetts in the title role. The show has also recently enjoyed an award-winning West End run with Michael Ball as Sweeney and Imelda Staunton as Mrs Lovett.

Now the show returns to Leicester with Curve's community theatre taking it on.

The company works with Curve's professional creative and technical team to stage the musical, which runs for two weeks starting at the end of this month.

We have more than 60 people in the company which means it sounds fantastic, says Paul.

No matter how good a professional company is, there's only so much volume you can get out of an ensemble of 10. When this company sings that opening chorus it really has impact. They've really got swept up in rehearsals and are so excited about performing the show, and there's a lot of talent there.

Some of them already have their places for drama school, and some will clearly go on in the business.

Maybe one day they'll be back here performing as professionals, it would certainly be great to think we helped shape the next generation of professional actors.

Just like Oliver! last year, it's not an amateur production just because it's community theatre.

The members of the company are getting an incredible opportunity to work with a professional director, orchestra, technical team, as well as enjoy the benefits of proper design and sound and lighting.

It all comes together to create an epic production and give them a fantastic experience.

But what do the professionals get out of it? Does it make a difference directing a community theatre production? I love the fact they are so responsive.

They really listen, they want to learn, they want to develop and to be guided.

There's nothing worse than a pro actor who turns up to rehearsals having already decided what the play is about, what their character is about, and who doesn't want to contemplate trying it another way or looking at other possibilities.

Or an actor who behaves like the director is getting in their way! This company is incredibly open and responds really well.

Having so many in the company does bring challenges, though - both for the director and the actors.

We have two people cast in each main role - two Sweeneys, two Mrs Lovetts, two Judge Turpins and so on. We couldn't take a chance with a two-week run that someone may be ill or off, but those who have got principal parts have to perform in the ensemble on the nights they're not playing their role. This means they have to learn their main role and the ensemble role, with all the different lyrics and harmonies. It's a big job which would challenge most professionals, but they've got on with it and done really well. I've enjoyed working with them.

info SWEENEY Todd runs from July 30 to August 11. Details on 0116 242 3595 or visit:

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