Sweeney Todd revisited (2)

I wonder if I will ever perform centre stage at the London Palladium again? Somehow I doubt it, so having just posted a short clip on my Spotlight page, here is the full excerpt from the 1994 Olivier Awards, when the National’s production by Declan Donnellan cleaned up.

How did I get to occupy such an exalted spot? Alun Armstrong had moved on from the production after our tour, and Denis Quilley, who had been Judge Turpin, reassumed the title role when we transferred from The Cottesloe to the Lyttelton (he had played Sweeney in Hal Prince’s original production at Drury Lane in 1980).

Tragically, he had a holiday booked the week of the awards, so the understudy went on. We were an early item, but as we came off into the wings got wind that we were getting at least one gong… and so it proved; as I say, we cleaned up. A happy night – and a happy company. Perhaps it is the way the piece juxtaposes comedy and horror that intensifies the bond, but the company spirit was remarkable.

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