GGreat craftsmanship and bloody crime are just a knife blade twist apart. When Sweeney Todd starts shaving his clients in his London barber shop, it takes the blink of an eye to have their throats slit. A cartoon animation at the back of the stage in the Staatstheater Mainz then shows the blood flowing, another showing the victim being transported down a slide to the basement, where Todd’s business partner Mrs. Lovett is making pies from the corpses. Because fresh meat is scarce in 19th-century London, the two unscrupulously increase their profits in the spirit of early industrialization.
The American composer Stephen Sondheim placed the fictional character of the mass murderer at the center of his musical thriller, which was based on the book by Hugh Wheeler and became a hit on Broadway in 1979. The film adaptation with Johnny Depp in the title role of the wrongly convicted barber, who despite his deeds is sure to have all the sympathy of the audience, caused a further boost in popularity of the play from 2007 onwards, which can now be experienced in a new production in Mainz. Apparently, the enthusiastically applauding audience at the premiere didn’t blame director KD Schmidt for thwarting much of the black humour, the swing of the vocal numbers and the esprit of the story, which is extraordinarily versatile and profound for the genre.
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