A Team Productions tackles Sweeney Todd

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SWEENEY Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, sets up shop in St Bride’s, Orwell Terrace, this week, as local youth company A Team Productions offer theatre goers another chance to be chilled by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s gothic slice of musical theatre.

Based on Christopher Bond’s 1973 play of the same name, the piece is set in 19th century London, to where Benjamin Barker returns after 15 years serving time for crimes he didn’t commit.

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street St Bride's Centre. Pic: Comp

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street St Bride's Centre. Pic: Comp

Discovering his wife poisoned herself after being raped by the judge who sentenced him, Barker vows his revenge.

Teaming up with a pie maker, Mrs Lovett, he opens a barbershop in which he slits the throats of his customers before sending their bodies to Mrs Lovett who bakes them into pies... and so, Sweeney Todd is born.

It’s a gory piece, but one director and producer Sean Quinn was keen to stage. “From the first time I saw Sweeney Todd at Dundee Rep, I knew A-Team Productions had to attempt it,” he says.

“Stephen Sondheim’s legendary show is a challenge for professionals let alone a cast of 24 young people. It is a show with elements of comedy and dark twists, which is a perfect balance for keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.”

Fully-funded for their first year by the Big Lottery Young Start, A-Team Productions is now a not-for-profit youth musical theatre company, aimed at providing a platform for 11-18 year olds.

“We are based in Edinburgh, rehearsing in Leith. However, the cast is from all over the city,” Quinn says, adding, “and we have strived to attract a cast of varied ability and experience.”

Founded in February last year, A Team Productions’ vision was to put together a youth company that would change the image of amateur dramatics and youth entertainment.

“Our aim was to take the raw talent of young people who may never get the opportunity to become involved in musical theatre and take them on a journey of self-discovery and positive self-expression,” explains Quinn.

“The cast have put their all into developing their talent to ensure we can put on a professional production.”

Co-founder of A-Team Productions, Hayley Dunn, adds, “Both Sean and I gained a lot of enjoyment and confidence from our own involvement in youth theatre when we were younger, and wanted to give something back in a different, more inclusive way.

“We wanted to ensure that every member of the cast felt they had an equally important role to play. What sets us apart is that we work as a team and every person involved in the production is as important as the next; each has a vital role to play in ensuring everything comes together.”

Similar to a sports team, A Team members each have a team kit provided by sponsor Scotmid.

“There is also a team captain who represents the views of the cast in management meetings,” says Dunn, “and other captains have been appointed to take responsibility for aspects of rehearsals.”

At St Bride’s, those kits will be swapped for costumes as the 24- strong company take on the Tony and Olivier Award winning musical.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, St Brides Centre, Orwell Terrace, tonight-Saturday, 7.30pm (matinee 2.30pm), £10, 07799-747427