Musical thriller first for opera company

Rob Piatt as Sweeney Todd and Karen Boniface as Mrs Lovett S17674H14
Rob Piatt as Sweeney Todd and Karen Boniface as Mrs Lovett S17674H14

THE demon barber of Fleet Street comes to Southwick, courtesy of amateur theatre company Southwick Opera.

The company will be performing Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece, Sweeney Todd, at The Barn Theatre, Southwick, later this month.

It is the first time Southwick Opera has presented this black comedy in its 49-year history and director Simon Gray has assembled a first-rate cast, including Rob Piatt in the title role.

Previously, Rob has appeared with Southwick Opera in leading roles in Carousel, The Merry Widow, Pagliacci and Kiss Me Kate.

The role of Mrs Lovett is played Karen Boniface, who makes her debut with the company.

Karen, a drama teacher at Shoreham College, trained at E17 in London. She is a founder member of Kompact Theatre Company, based in Worthing, and regularly performs with them.

Other newcomers are Curtis Lavender as Anthony and Brogan Webber as Tobias, while the role of Judge Turpin is played by long-standing member Andrew Holden.

Operatic tenor Tony Adams makes a welcome return to the company as Pirelli, a rival barber, and Mike Mackenzie also returns to play the role of The Beadle.

The cast also includes Southwick Opera regulars Jennie Duval as Johanna and Lisa Abbott as the Beggar Woman.

The black comedy follows the infamous Sweeney Todd, the unjustly exiled barber who returns to 19th century London seeking revenge against the judge who coveted his young wife and falsely imprisoned him.

Cheated of his revenge against the judge, Sweeney develops a thirst for blood that soon includes his unfortunate customers, cheerfully helped by Mrs Lovett, who is delighted to give new life to her flavourless meat pies.

This production is from an adaptation by Christopher Bond, with orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. It was originally directed by Harold Prince.

With support from the Southwick Opera chorus and orchestra, Sweeney Todd will be performed at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, from Monday, May 12, to Saturday, May 17, at 7.30pm daily.

Tickets are £12, £14 and £16, with concessions on the Monday, from 01273 597094 or online from

Southwick Opera performs two shows a year, usually in May and November. The next production will be Guys and Dolls, running from November 12 to 15.

The company is currently looking for new directors and musical directors for future shows and new members are also welcome. Contact the secretary, Andrea Jones, by emailing for more information.