Well-Executed Musical About Murder I've now been here long enough-now to read through the programme of a BATS production and recognise the names and faces who work so long and hard each year to produce amateur productions of really outstanding quality. And this was the best I've seen yet.
A highly-ambitious presentation - in the sense that Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics are complex and very difficult to perform - of the musical concerning the troubled barber whose clients "went to their maker impeccably shaved", it provided one heck of an impressively gripping night out for those lucky enough to be in the audience.
The key to the success of any performance of this show is in the casting of the principals, and it was in these decisions that the company pulled off a masterstroke.
Baritone Rob Wilson made for a magnificent Todd, all malevolent eyebrows, pale face and widened eyes. Here was a man who ran his hand through his hair in a way that made an audience feel that, at any moment, he would run off the stage into the crowd and get going with his beloved razors.
He was joined by Tracey Gonzato, who absolutely relished the role of Mrs Lovett, the woman who saw good pie business potential in Todd's murderous streak. The pair were ably assisted by George Tinsley, Bryn Hughes and Theresa Lunn. Special mention must also go to Siobhan FitzPatrick for her terrifically grimy turn as the beggar woman. As if the performances weren't enough value for money, the costumes and the intricate staging were quite the best I've seen in an amateur production.
It takes a lot of thinking to create Sweeney's barber shop, the pie shop, the bakehouse and the myriad of other locations needed for the complex action of this thriller, but plaudits are due to all involved with the making of this set.
BATS should feel incredibly proud of this show and of its air of slick professionalism, which demonstrated that their hard work has paid off. Many congratulations all round.