Ends Dec 31

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

Members say: Great staging, Absorbing, Great singing, Must see, Clever
47 reviews
103 reviews

Tooting Arts Club's immersive staging of Sondheim and Wheeler’s iconic musical thriller transfers from London’s oldest working pie shop to NYC's Barrow Street Theatre.
... Read more

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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Reviews (150)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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


“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

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


“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


“Buckhurst manages to find the perfect, and sometimes elusive, mix of macabre, mirth, and melodrama…Yep, you’ll laugh, you’ll gasp…And you’ll leave humming every bit of Sondheim’s magnificently diverse score, and immediately want to go back for seconds. (Even the three-piece orchestra is sufficiently wonderful!) Much of the credit for the production’s success belongs to the stunningly chosen eight-person cast.” 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


"It's a stripped-down production featuring a lean and very mean company of performers that sing their guts out, and they kill it!...The intimate space lets us hear Sondheim's gloriously complex score loud and clear, and it gives us new appreciation for his searing lyrics. And when Sweeney starts slashing throats and his accomplice Mrs. Lovett cooks up the corpses into meat pies, it's especially ghoulish as the audience is thrust right into the middle of the action." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“It’s all so cleverly conceived…The spectacular London cast has been joined by the heart rending Matt Doyle …You won’t miss a beat of the exciting Sondheim brilliance that continuously pulsates in this operetta enveloping the audience…The direction by Bill Burkhurst will knock your socks off…Having seen two revivals of this remarkable Sondheim work, I can honestly say this one is the best of the lot in my opinion.” Full Review


"The real wonder of all this is that it never feels gimmicky -- just a full-on, assault-all-your-senses immersion into one of the greatest musicals ever crafted...Occasionally you may yearn for a little more distance from the action. But Buckhurst, Secomb and the smashing Siobhan McCarthy have succeeded in restoring all the intensity and Grand Guignol creepiness to a musical thriller that can devolve into kitsch. See this once-in-a-lifetime production at all costs." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Must see production of a great musical by the brilliant stephen sondheim

See it if immersive stripped-down production and fierce portrayal of the murderous Sweeney make this scariest/most visceral version of show I've seen

Don't see it if doesn't have majesty and polish of fully-staged productions; underlying anti-social Darwinism message hidden beneath horror show

Ambitious, Dizzying, Disappointing, Great singing

See it if you love Sondheim and listening to great performances of his work.

Don't see it if you expect them to use an immersive space to its fullest.

Also Most of the action happens in one area so the pie shop motif only crea... Read more Read less

Indulgent, Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated, Great singing

See it if I would have given it 0 but Siobhan McCarthy was so fantastic I had to give this production something. I left at intermission. Such a waste!

Don't see it if You enjoy the score to this masterful musical. A piano, clarinet & violin do not do it! Not everything deserves an immersive re-staging.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Masterful, Riveting, Great singing

See it if you are an ST fan, a must see. Singing is astounding. Setting puts you in the middle of the story. Meat pies were good too.

Don't see it if happy musicals are more your fare; it is dark and gruesome. You need sets, local is suggested. May also not be the best ST for a 1st timer.

Also Full disclosure:I am a huge fan of Sweeney Todd. Consider it to be one... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intense, Riveting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy new twists on classic musicals and don't mind the sacrifices that have to be made to serve this wonderful concept (i.e. the band).

Don't see it if you don't enjoy being in close proximity to actors, especially in an intense musical like this one.

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if Excellent use of the immersive space. Very interactive and intimate. Wonderful performances and voices by the cast.

Don't see it if The immersive setting may not be versatile enough to work for every scene. Very in-your-face style overall, so keep that in mind.

Also Highly recommend table seats -- can't imagine enjoying it as much from... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great writing, Confusing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you're a big fan of the show/score and want to see it performed by a great cast

Don't see it if you're not into nontraditional stagings, especially ones that don't *quite* work in the end.

Clever, Great acting, Intense, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You like to be in the middle of the action. Seating is in the pie shop and actors appear everywhere. Accept murder as fun. Brilliant staging

Don't see it if You do not like dark humor. Do not like to be close to the actors in a small space. Dislike operetta type musicals.

Also Matt Boyle Is both wonderful to look at, and his voice is in top form ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Entertaining

See it if a fine, yet conventional production of Sweeney Todd. It really shines when it uses the whole space, which happens very rarely.

Don't see it if Not the most comfortable seating. Try to be closer to the service counter.

Clever, Dizzying, Great writing, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you love Sondheim. See it if you hate Sondheim. See it if you don't know who Sondheim is. It is brilliant. You really need to see this one.

Don't see it if you are an idiot. There is no reason on God's green earth not to see this show. It is frickin' amazing. And get the pie first.

Ambitious, Great writing, Entertaining, Intimate, Searing

See it if You want to feel the power of Sondheim diluted to its essence and brought to a boil. Especially if you've seen Sweeney before.

Don't see it if You're expecting a big sound (there are only 3 musicians) or don't like more abstract staging (the single set is limiting).

Also As someone with a tendency to always go for the cheapest seat in the h... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Masterful, Riveting, Great writing, Great singing

See it if You enjoy a masterful musical, hear each expertly crafted lyric & be taken on an extraordinary journey; outstanding vocals by all

Don't see it if You dislike dark humor, semi-immersive interactions and intensity; not for the faint of heart

Also We need to see more of Matt Doyle- outstanding! I was in a partial vie... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Powerful, Great everything, And tasty, too!

See it if You love the show, Sondheim, and want to see a truly immersive production. For a true aficionado, this is a treat beyond belief. You must!

Don't see it if The intensity of the story is problematic for you, because that intensity is kicked up several notches here. Also, it can be a bit tight.

Also Meat pies and ovens--signature props of this show for sure. But imagin... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Intense, Must see, Great staging

See it if you're an admirer of Sweeney Todd b/c this staging is unlike any you've seen before. It's clever, fun, intimate & intense. Unforgettable.

Don't see it if you're a purist, or if you don't like immersive theater. And the seating isn't the most comfortable, if you're the fidgety type.

Also The cast is uniformly excellent but it's anchored by incredible lead p... Read more Read less

Clever, Delightful, Intense, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you enjoy Sondheim musicals. It was up close and personal. And the pies were great!

Don't see it if you're not a Sondheim fan. It's all about the music.

Absorbing, Clever, Intense

See it if Sweeney!!! Immersive and delightfully in your face.

Don't see it if Traditional staging. Full orchestra

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Masterful, Must see

See it if You are a fan of site specific shows and want to join a unique take on this production. Its a must see.

Don't see it if Wanted to see a big fluffy musical.

Also Jeremy Secomb & Siobhán McCarthy are so good in this production. Secom... Read more Read less

Masterful, Must see, Riveting

See it if You love Sondheim and are ready to be truly spooked by the sinister Sweeney Todd!

Don't see it if You are not interested in innovative, immersive theater experience

Intense, Masterful, Must see, Riveting, Electrifying

See it if You want to experience an exciting, thrilling, and electrifying production of one of Sondheim's greatest works.

Don't see it if You're uncomfortable with maintaining close physical proximity with actors and the thought of having meaningful interactions frightens you.

Also The meat pies are delectable, the pared down orchestrations are stunni... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Masterful, Must see, Riveting, Thrilling

See it if You love Sondheim, you like hearing unamplified voices sing (rare!), you love inventive, immersive stagings or appreciate a masterwork.

Don't see it if Well, it's scary. But also funny and very involving--it's a Victorian melodrama writ large. I'm sending everyone I know.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you want to see an interesting and intimate take on a classic.

Don't see it if you don't like tragedy and suggested gore.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Riveting, Great staging

See it if you want to see a fresh take on this Sondheim staple.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy site-specific theatre.

Clever, Must see, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy immersive productions with clever staging and great high energy performances

Don't see it if You don't enjoy dark subject matter or actors being up close and personal.........

Also Only downside is having to constantly swivel in your seat and/or crane... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy musicals, because this is the best immersive one you might ever see

Don't see it if no matter how well done this type of musical is (and this is extremely well done) it just leaves you asking, "So?"

Intense, Must see, Riveting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if It's a unique opportunity to experience an exquisite and classic musical in the most intimate setting possible.

Don't see it if You think you can't bear limited accompaniment or close contact with the actors.

Also One of the most memorable experiences I've had in the theater. Sweeney... Read more Read less