Killer reviews for Sweeney Todd!

Back to all posts

Universal acclaim for our new production

The reviews are in - and boy are they good!  If you're thinking of coming to one of our Auckland shows, you'll need to be quick - we've got just three more performances to go at The Civic, before we move onto Wellington and Christchurch. Here's a little taster of what the critics had to say:

“If you’re thinking about going to see it, stop thinking; just go and see it.  I found it a really moving, hilarious, dark, exhilarating piece of theatre.  A real triumph.”

Peter Hoar, Radio New Zealand Concert

“Stuart Maunder's production for New Zealand Opera never missed a cue, balancing gusty grand guignol with dark poetry in which human souls emerged from expressionist vaudeville…this was Broadway opera at its best.”

The Herald

“Teddy Tahu Rhodes’ voice as Sweeney Todd banged through the Civic like a bass drum…Rhodes played an impeccable Todd, however the highest applause of the night must be given to Antoinette Halloran in her role of Mrs. Lovett. One of Australia’s best loved sopranos, Halloran showed exceptional stage presence, demanding audience attention whenever she graced the stage, and battling with difficult songs which often saw her change between spoken words to long, high notes in moments.

"The marriage of technical set utility, the cast’s universal vocal expertise, and balance between the sensible and the comical have lifted this production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street above and beyond any of the year’s musical performances.

Gay Express

“A bloody good show awaits those who attend this tale of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Richly flavoured with Sondheim irony and perception, it is peppered with some of our best talent and baked to a perfect crunch.”


“It’s a revelation to hear the show with these voices…what’s special about the NZ Opera version is how much of the black humour they’ve been able to wring from the text.  The production values are excellent. We are in extremely good hands all round.”


Helen Medlyn again shows why she is one of our best with her spirited and sexually sly portrayal of the tragic beggar woman. Judge Turpin (Phillip Rhodes), Beadle Bamford (Andrew Glover) and Tobias (Joel Grainger) also put in impeccable turns...As with any NZ Opera production, the staging, costuming and lighting are all on-point.  Casting-wise, it’s exactly quality you would expect from NZ Opera. Teddy Tahu Rhodes is menacing as Sweeney Todd and Antoinette Halloran has great fun with the livelier role of Mrs Lovett, Todd’s accomplice. The supporting cast all have their time to shine…Sweeney Todd is probably my favourite NZ Opera production from the last couple of years. It’s violent, dark and clever whilst also being filled with humour and some stellar performances.  Check it out while you can.”

"If Darth Vader could sing, he would sound like Teddy Tahu Rhodes. My god, his voice. I mean that last sentence literally; if I wanted someone to sing the role of God, he’d be my pick. He sounds like molten dark chocolate might sound if you gave it a voice and then spliced in some thunder storm. Between them, Halloran and Rhodes would be all the reason you’d need to go to this production, even if it fell to pieces elsewhere: which it doesn’t."


"There really wasn’t a weak link on stage. The forces of good as embodied by Amelia Barry as Joanna and James Benjamin Rodgers’ as Antony were strongly characterised and cleanly and purely sung…Phillip Rhodes’ rich baritone portrayed a strong Judge Turpin, but one where the inner corruption and weakness were visible. His partner in crime, Beadle Bamford, was vividly played and sung by Andrew Glover as a slimy enforcer.

"The protagonists were Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Antoinette Halloran. He is of course a virile and dominating stage presence with a rich baritone voice and clearly showed us the steps by which his vengeance was planned and executed, losing all humanity in the process. Antoinette Halloran, so memorable as Madama Butterfly, was a slutty and sexy Mrs Lovett, prepared to do anything to ensure that she is one of the ones who get to eat, rather than the ones who get eaten, but with a genuine love for Sweeney.

"Of the remainder of the cast Helen Medlyn should be mentioned as the Beggar Woman (has she ever been on a stage that she doesn’t own?) and Joel Granger as Tobias Ragg, who took full advantage of one of the score’s rare moments of repose with a tender and gentle delivery of “Not while I’m around".

"So, is Sweeney Todd a Broadway musical? Or a modern opera? I wouldn’t waste time worrying about that. Just get to the Civic Theatre and experience one of the most involving and exciting works of anything created for the theatre at the end of the 20th century."

The Opera Critic

"..the cast does an excellent job to bring out the very best in Sondheim’s humour and masterful lyrics.

"As Sweeney Todd, Teddy Tahu Rhodes wouldn’t look out of place as a thug from a Guy Ritchie gangster film. His growling speaking voice makes him for almost beast-like in his quest for revenge…as likeable but equally deranged pie-shop owner Mrs Lovett, soprano Antoinette Halloran delivers a saucy and convincing performance, combining subtlety with bawdiness to leave the audience in no doubt of both her devotion to “Mr T”.

"The supporting roles are equally sincere in their interpretations – Joel Granger as Tobias is innocent and earnest as he sings “Not While I’m Around”, while the two young lovers Johanna (Amelia Berry) and Anthony (James Benjamin Rodgers) find a comic balance as they plan an escape while grappling with the absurdities of their secret love. Rival barber Pirelli (Robert Tucker) boasts a flavour of a spoof Italian opera star - an appropriate and effective interpretation given the company’s talent and repertoire.

"While the incomparable Helen Medlyn turns the often underwhelming beggar woman into a highlight of the show – never missing a beat between her mournful wailing that foreshadows the show’s conclusion, and her quick-witted but vulgar propositions that have the audience in stitches from her first entrance."

Newstalk ZB