Musical thriller ‘Sweeney Todd’ comes to Singapore for the first time, starring actress Lea Salonga

Actress Lea Salonga & SRT’s Gaurav Kripalani at the June 17 press conference for ‘Sweeney Todd’. Photo: Singapore Repertory Theatre
Actress Lea Salonga & SRT’s Gaurav Kripalani at the June 17 press conference for ‘Sweeney Todd’. Photo: Singapore Repertory Theatre

Everyone’s gotta be on their best behavior come November, ’cause that’s when Sweeney Todd makes his debut in Singapore. Presented by the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT), the famous Stephen Sondheim musical thriller brings the Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands for a bloody staging.

As the gruesome production celebrates its 40th anniversary, it’ll first be performed in the Philippines (during Halloween, no less) before coming to our shores. Directed by Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group founder Bobby Garcia, it stars Filipino musician Jett Pangan as the titular character and Lea Salonga — a household name in the Philippines, especially among die-hard Disney princess movie fans — as Mrs. Lovett.

“It’s one of those musicals that you need to live life enough in order to play that role with authenticity, truth, and honesty,” 48-year-old Salonga said in a press conference today, adding that she’s seen the musical several times. “It’s not the grisliness that hits me; it’s all the human interaction, how people are unjustly accused to achieve the desires of another person.”

For the few of you unsure of what tasty theatrics Sweeney Todd entails, it’s essentially about an unfairly accused barber, who returns to London after a years-long incarceration, thirsty for revenge on the corrupt judge who framed him. His vengeful quest lands him in a meat pie shop owned by Lovett the widow, and as they transform the crumbling business into a flourishing one, the bodies begin to pile up.

Salonga, who’s known for her roles in Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, and Into The Woods (which marked her Singapore debut in 1994) — as well as being the singing voice of Mulan and Princess Jasmine in Disney’s animated Mulan and Aladdin movies, respectively — said she empathizes with her character to “justify everything she does,” and feels for the demon barber, who is Lovett’s unrequited love.

“His life is marked by so much tragedy,” she explained, going on to add that it’s not often she gets to play a role of someone who’s “difficult to like.”

Expressing surprise that it’s the first time the award-winning musical will be staged in Singapore, Salonga remarked on the accessibility of the story and its fascination with the darker part of humanity.

“The show is still timely and current because human nature is what it is,” she mused. “The themes may seem off-putting, but what makes the show a hit is how dark certain people’s desires can be.”

“There’s a place for fluffy musicals, and I love them. But this is one of those where you can sink your teeth into and really get to the heart of the matter and realize human beings can be heinous sometimes.”

Chew on that while you wait for November to arrive.


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is on from Nov 28-Dec 8; Tues-Fri 8pm, Sat 3pm & 8pm, Sun 1pm & 6pm at Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands.

MRT: Bayfront

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