Ends Dec 31

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Tooting Arts Club)

Members say: Great staging, Great singing, Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining
55 reviews
332 reviews

Tooting Arts Club's immersive staging of Sondheim and Wheeler’s iconic musical thriller transfers from London to NYC's Barrow Street Theatre. Now starring Tony nominees Norm Lewis and Carolee Carmello.

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After being wrongfully imprisoned by the corrupt Judge Turpin, escapee Benjamin Barker uses the alias Sweeney Todd to resume work in his barber shop above Mrs. Lovett’s struggling pie shop. He swears vengeance against the judge that tore his family apart, and hatches a plot with Mrs. Lovett that leads them down a dangerous, thrilling path with deadly consequences. Instead of a traditional theater setting, this revival is set inside a 360-degree replica environment of Harrington's Pie & Mash shop. The action takes place downstairs on and around the shop’s service counter and four nearby tables. While there is no formal audience participation, certain seats are very close to the players. Pie and mash is served beginning one hour prior to each performance.

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Cast & Creatives (20)

Reviews (387)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

The New York Times

"Delivers on its ingenious, if limited, objective...This 'Sweeney' may raise your pulse rate....Yet unlike almost every previous 'Sweeney' I’ve seen, this one rarely penetrates your heart and mind. What we’re presented with is a self-contained, darkness-steeped spook house. And as with many amusement park entertainments, the jolts it elicits leave few aftershocks...It allows you to squeeze your partner’s arm in delighted anxiety, without paying the price of insomnia to come." Full Review


“A thrillingly immersive revival, which takes an already great musical and turns it into a heart-pounding visceral experience…Secomb combines the efficient physicality of a remorseless killer with a truly lovely singing voice…Director Bill Buckhurst excels at drawing out suspense and tension in his staging…Tooting Arts Club's production is full of such memorable surprises. It pulls us into the heart of the story like no other musical playing in New York right now.” Full Review


"Carmello is a revelation as Mrs. Lovett, unlocking the comic potential in one terrifyingly determined character...Lewis compensates with a velvety baritone that is able to express all the musical nuances in the score, even when there is nothing nuanced about his acting...Buckhurst's inventive staging makes us believe that any story can be told in any space with enough imagination." Full Review


"A chance to see two top-shelf singer/actors, Norm Lewis and Carolee Carmello, transform a production that opened as an amusing Grand Guignol melodrama into a deeply moving and gorgeously sung evening of thrilling musical theatre...Lewis gives full value to Sondheim's music...His Sweeney Todd isn't a madman, but rather an emotionally wounded human driven to madness...Carmello draws you in with her character's absurd self-effacing humor and breaks your heart." Full Review

Time Out New York

“This high-concept staging is a bloody wonder…Bill Buckhurst and a hugely talented cast make this site-specific 'Sweeney' seem as natural as pie and mash…In this claustrophobic environment, the horror and madness is palpable…The sonic joys of Sondheim’s richly woven score and the Grand Guignol shocks of this primal tragedy are almost unbearably intense...This thrilling, overwhelming 'Sweeney' is a full-course meal: hot from the oven and dripping blood." Full Review


"The voices of the cast are uniformly robust. Secomb’s piercing glare and growling baritone give the demon barber the kind of sex appeal that makes mincemeat of a lusty lady like Mrs. Lovett...This tight-knit company, some of whom have been with the show since it originated in Tooting, also has a flair for the show’s undercurrents of black humor...All in all, this cheerily gory show is great family fun — if your family happens to be the Munsters." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Sondheim and Wheeler’s killer-cannibal musical cuts a fine figure with a mostly new cast...In the title role, Norm Lewis is glum in repose but comes scarily alive when prowling through the audience, and Carolee Carmello is a vicious, hilarious marvel as his amoral and clingy accomplice, Mrs. Lovett. Even if you've seen 'Sweeney' many times already, Carmello makes it worth revisiting: She's giving a meaty, delicously human star performance." Full Review

New Yorker

“Sondheim’s mid-career masterpiece…‘Sweeney Todd’ is filled with so much wonder that, especially when you have a cast and a director as talented as those involved in this London import, it can temporarily erase the memory of the cynicism or knowingness that informs so many other current productions..The actors perform without mugging. Their characterizations are organic, and they open Sondheim’s brilliant lyrics up to a new freshness: their interpretations are those of actors, not stars.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"In this environment, and with such a gifted company, the musical's rattling terrors and jet-black comedy are felt with a power that, for me, recalls the electrifying effect of the original, still one of the top five experiences I've had in four decades of theatregoing...Everything in Buckhurst's production is infused with imagination...Buckhurst makes judicious use of audience interaction without ever undermining the show's savage viewpoint, its cruel and sinister jokes." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"This is a pint-sized production of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler opus...Sondheim’s piano score for the musical is richly vibrant and as played by musical director Matt Aument, thoroughly and thrillingly fills the room...Yes, I prefer the full Jonathan Tunick treatment; but it wouldn’t work, or fit, here...The engagement seems to be an instant hit...This pie-shop 'Sweeney Todd' makes a tasty rendition of Sondheim’s masterwork, and serves up the show with style and thrills." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"The terrific, pint-sized, meat pie & mash production of 'Sweeney Todd' has gotten terrificker, to coin a nongrammatical but pretty much accurate adjective...Altogether enhanced by the presence of a pair of strong-singing Broadway vets...The slight weakness of the production when it opened, for me, was the Lovett; good enough, but lacking the glazed insanity that need lurk near the surface of the character. Carolee Carmello shows us how it should be done!" Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

“Secomd as Sweeney Todd and Siobhán McCarthy as Mrs. Lovett are two of the four holdovers from the London production, and their simultaneously chilling and hilarious performances are reason enough to make this a must-see show…The other four cast members are welcome additions for the New York transfer…This production of ‘Sweeney Todd’ somehow feels seminal.” Full Review

Theater Life

"A radical staging shift does not diminish its power...Places the thrilling tale...in its most logical setting—a meat pie shop—and the results are deliciously devilish...Buckhurst uses the intimate setting to create a terrifyingly close experience...Music director Matt Aument and his trio manage to impart the lushness of Sondheim’s complex and gorgeous score...Jeremy Secomb is probably the most frightening Sweeney you’ll ever see." Full Review

Front Row Center

"The intimacy of the space is captivating. The actors move in and about the tables and customers. The fourth wall comes down with a flourish and then pops back up again...These actors march through the story like an army on the move. They take no prisoners, and make you sit up and pay attention, not only through their intimacy, but through their plain old skill. This is an ensemble that cares as much about each other as they do about the story...This production is magic. Pure and fine." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"The gimmick, and the close quarters it entails, make this the most frightening 'Sweeney Todd' I’ve seen...The director Bill Buckhurst frequently has his cast bellowing in a space that doesn’t require it. It’s very effective, if at a cost to beauty...The score is a marvel of ingenious counterprogramming. That’s what makes the thrills thrill. The new production unfortunately flattens some of these effects...Still, when a production gets more than halfway there, it’s plenty. This one does." Full Review

AM New York

"The pie shop concept is cute at first, but 'Sweeney' is a heavily-plotted drama that involves many different locations. This production is awkwardly staged...At its best, 'Sweeney' can be terrifying, mesmerizing and sweeping, but this production sacrifices the storytelling and score for the sake of a gimmick. The cast is decent but not noteworthy." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

“As a concept, it holds together remarkably well…All these clashing sentiments burn bright in an accomplished ensemble combining London holdovers with newcomers…The urgency and immediacy of its storytelling make it a terrific introduction to a glittering musical by a composer at the peak of his powers, and also an invigorating new spin for audiences who know and love this brilliantly conceived Victorian nightmare.” Full Review

New York Daily News

“The show is intimate, inventive and as in-your-face as it gets...Reprising lead roles, Jeremy Secomb brings unblinking intensity as the titular throat-slitting barber, while Siobhan McCarthy is deftly daft as the baker who grinds victims into meat pies. Amid the atmosphere, narrative clarity can come out underbaked. Who’s that? Wasn’t the oven over there? And in a musical about justice, the singing doesn’t always do that to the majestic score.” Full Review


“While I am no fan of these mini-Sondheims, there are many pleasures to recommend this revival, adroitly staged by Bill Buckhurst in Simon Kenny’s uncanny setting. Atop the menu are Jeremy Secomb, truly, mesmerizingly terrifying in the title role…The other roles are superbly cast as well…Benjamin Cox’s arrangements for trio have their charms, but power doesn’t figure in the mix...This 'Sweeney Todd' provides delectable finger food when what you really want is the full meal.” Full Review


“Brilliantly inventive…Director Bill Buckhurst's approach is great fun…Everything about this propulsive staging works beautifully...A bigger orchestra could hardly top the effectiveness of this production's chamber sized threesome…None of this clever immersiveness would work without a cast who can deliver on all counts. And the Brits who pioneered the London hit do so with flying colors, as do the Americans who have now joined them.” Full Review


“Just 10 actors play all the characters with creep-fest glee, if not always vocally astonishing power. Jeremy Secomb’s baritone is a little light for Sweeney’s deepest dark heart…Sondheim’s score is expertly reduced to just a piano, strings and wind trio. Somehow, Sondheim’s restless chromatics, the difficult disjunct vocal lines, the extended song forms and, especially, the wrenchingly beautiful choral writing are approached with the affection and awe they deserve.” Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“Piping hot and tasty is this inventive revival…Once the lights go out, the show kicks in with full force. From the first note sung, we know we are in for a solid fantastic meal here…This production is filled to the brim with great voices, creativity, and a perfectly cast group of actors. Not one bad ingredient in the lot…The whole production is more fun and startling, rather than dark and moody which works so well in the environmental set-up." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"With his dead eyes, hollow cheeks and slicked-back hair, Jeremy Secomb is a very scary Todd. Any vocal shortcomings are more than made up for by his commanding presence. Siobhan McCarthy is as fine a Mrs. Lovett as I have seen...Kudos to director Bill Buckhurst for holding everything together. It’s a unique theatrical experience that I highly recommend. I also suggest ordering the pre-show pot pie and mash for $20 with beverage." Full Review


“A riotously entertaining evening you won’t soon forget…The brilliance of the work, directed by Bill Buckhurst, is that while it generates plenty of laughs, it never loses touch with the terror of the story…The production is a marvel of site-specific theater, using the audience to help tell the story in a tightly packed room in which sounds and lights are pretty much the only staging aids…It’s theater-in-the-small, but it has a big impact." Full Review


“Secomb’s performance is threatening and physical, and you’ll wow at the way he becomes unbuttoned and lost in the world during the macabre and cherished first act climax…All the familiar numbers are well-executed…Candlelight, a three-person orchestra give the production its atmosphere without any extravagant pyrotechnics…Here, we get a new twist on an old favorite, a particularly satisfying staging that’s a treat for all of the senses, even taste.” Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

See it if you want a Sweeney done right, where they know it's a funny show.

Don't see it if you aren't a Sondhiem fan.

Also I think this worked very well. I will say that the changes they made (... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great staging, Carolee is amazing!, Yummy

See it if you like experiential theatre and want to see a masterful performance from the one and only Carolee Carmello

Don't see it if you dont like "in your face" (literally) theatre

Absorbing, Riveting, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You want your socks blown off. I could not have loved this production more! Do the dinner pie option beforehand!

Don't see it if You don't like Sondheim, dark themes, minimal gore, immersive theater.

Absorbing, Masterful, Must see, Great singing, Great staging

See it if Blown away! Norm, Carmelo and cast amazing. Staging was brilliant. Perfect immersion.

Don't see it if Go see it... pay for the best seats. It makes it and it's worth it.

Clever, Masterful, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you are a fan of the source material and want to see it performed in an immersive format with a minimal cast of 8. Very cleverly done.

Don't see it if this is not your type of show. Sweeney is not everyone's cup of tea.

Also I was at first surprised to learn that the cast was only 8 people and ... Read more Read less

Great acting, Confusing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you already love the source material. Carolee is the best Lovett I've ever seen.

Don't see it if you don't know the show that well. While the staging is very clever and charming, it leads to clumsy moments in the climax of the show.

Clever, Hilarious, Great staging, Gorgeous singing, Jump-scare terrifying

See it if you like immersive theater. Actors make the parts their own. Judge+Sweeney duets gorgeous. Timing is perfect. Sitting at tables worth it.

Don't see it if don't like audience interaction. Sweeney would yell directly at audience members which was scary... but also made horrifying scenes funny

Delightful, Great acting, Masterful, Great singing, Great staging

See it if Sondheim! Great show in a pie shop setting, Norm Lewis, Carolee Carmello and Brad Oscar excel to name 3 in the cast

Don't see it if dislike Sondheim

Dark, Dizzying, Edgy, Intense, Masterful

See it if Powerful immersive staging. Terrific acting and musicianship. An intense, memorable experience that stays with you.

Don't see it if You won't enjoy a dark dark show with frightening moments, or you don't like Sondheim's music. Not for kids.

Exquisite, Intelligent, Masterful, Must see, Riveting

See it if you want to see a cast of brilliant actors perform flawlessly about two inches from you; you enjoy shows that make you truly feel something

Don't see it if you cannot stand immersive productions

Clever, Intense, Riveting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You want to see a classic show reimagined in a fresh and immersive new way. Fantastic directing that brings the audience into the action.

Don't see it if Darker shows or onstage violence bother you or if you prefer big sets and large orchestras. This is essentially a chamber musical.

Absorbing, Riveting, Get the pie!, Gorgeous voices

See it if you love Sondheim and this show in particular - this production is not to be missed.

Don't see it if you don't like performers in your face and walking on your table.

Also If you can get a ticket here's some advice: For the vertically challen... Read more Read less

Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you're looking for a fun off-broadway revival of a classic musical. It really brings you to the pie shop and if you can, the pies are great!

Don't see it if you want to be away from the action - it's interactive or something new.

Intense, Amazing performances, Intimate space, Unique setting inside a pie shop

See it if You would like to see a classic musical staged a completely different way.

Don't see it if You don't like violence depicted on stage. Or if you're not a Sondheim fan.

Clever, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You want to see a show in a innovative space and seeing the show in a new light... direction is brilliant only the cast is weak

Don't see it if Norm Lewis may be giving his worst performance of his entire career. This Cast is very weak & I wish saw the original

Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Must see, Great staging

See it if You want to see Sweeney done completely different than its ever been done before and or you love immersive theater

Don't see it if You need the prescenium to enjoy a show

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you want a great production of Sweeney with great performances (esp. Carollee Carmello) and staging.

Don't see it if you're expecting true "360" immersion

Funny, Intelligent, Masterful, Must see, Riveting

See it if you like alternative staging, environmental theatre, being INCREDIBLY close to the action, one of the greatest musicals ever written.

Don't see it if you startle very easily, don't like musicals, are scared of the dark, or get nervous when actors are moving around you.

Delightful, Intelligent, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You want to see a site specific production where you are " in " the show. The staging is definetly ingenious in spite of the limited space.

Don't see it if If you prefer more polished productions. This one has ( at times ) a " works in progress " feeling. Be prepared for not so comfortable seats

Clever, Intense, Entertaining, Great staging, Immersive

See it if you love an intimate staging of a sondheim work and having actors shouted their lines in front of your face

Don't see it if you're uncomfortable with a site specific staging and non-traditional theater space

Disappointing, Overrated

See it if You love Sweeney and want a more intimate experience. Ps. Have Norm Lewis and Carolee Carmello belting Sondheim 2 feet away is pretty cool

Don't see it if You have high expectations. It's and amazing show and it felt a little community theater to me. Concept is amazing. Execution, not so much.

Also Unfortunately I was expecting a lot from Norm Lewis and while his voic... Read more Read less

Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you love the show and want to see it in a great new way!

Don't see it if the thought of singing cannibals makes you nauseous

Absorbing, Ambitious, Masterful, Refreshing

See it if You're a fan of the show and want to see an immersive take on it. The pie shop setting is really interesting and original!

Don't see it if The dark material disturbs you, you're not a fan of musicals or you are only a fan of traditionally done theater

Also All of the actors were fantastic except unfortunately the actor who pl... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Intelligent, Quirky, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you like unconventional staging, Stephen Sondheim, clever lyrics, and wonderfully dark musicals

Don't see it if you dislike small spaces, audience interaction, or trekking to the Village

Funny, Epic, Riveting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you want to see a new, immersive take on a great classic musical; you love Sondheim; you've never seen this show before.

Don't see it if you like your musicals with happy endings.