Every year, it seems, the FAOS Musical Theatre Group in Farnham raises the bar with its productions.
And every year, it rises to that challenge, beats it – and then looks to the next big thing.
What that will be after a show of this scale is anyone’s guess.
Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, is a massive undertaking. Not only does it require a company with more than a spattering of acting talent, there’s no room for weak singing voices.
It requires a costume department on top of its game.
It requires a set good enough within its confines to transport the audience through many scene changes, and lighting effects to maximise the bloodshed.
And all of them were achieved... with room to spare.
Add to that the orchestra – there’s nothing better than good-quality live music accompanying an am-dram – and it’s easy to see why Sweeney Todd is a winner.
And that’s before we get down to individual performances.
Anyone who has seen the film with Johnny Depp knows it’s a dark, bitter tale with occasional laugh-out-loud moments. Kevin Sampson as the demon barber is a cut above (geddit?) with his terrific voice and stage presence.
Alexandra Yates has an extraordinarily good voice and is superb as Mrs Lovett – hers is probably the most memorable performance of the night.
And that’s saying something with the other talent on display. Hazel Burrows produces one of the creepiest performances you’ll ever see as the beggar woman. No wonder FAOS recommends the show should be seen by those no younger than 13 – the way Hazel creeps around the stage is the stuff of nightmares.
Victoria Howard-Andrews makes her FAOS debut in the role of Johanna, and it’s a memorable one, and Lewis Hoskins can also be delighted with his debut show as the love-lorn sailor Anthony.
But there’s not a weak link on the stage, which is not always the case with amateur dramatics, where the well can sometimes run dry – director Heather Legat has eased every ounce from each and every person on the stage, behind it and with an instrument, or baton, in their hand.
From the moment the curtain rolls back, and the first bars of the score are belted out, the atmosphere is set.
It’s almost enough to put you off pies for life.
The show runs at The Maltings until Saturday, starting at 7.30pm, with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm. Tickets are £ £18 (under 16s, full-time students £13). For details, and to book tickets, see https://farnhammaltings.com/events/faos-sweeney-todd-the-demon-barber-of-fleet-street