Lea Salonga: Killer musical Todd Sweeney still timely 40 years on
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street star Lea Salonga says the musical never seems to age
Forty years after the musical thriller first opened on Broadway, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street remains endlessly timely, according to Filipino actress-singer Lea Salonga.
The Tony Award winner will star in the latest iteration - presented by the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) - as the comedic Mrs Lovett, the accomplice of the titular serial killer who makes and sells meat pies made from Todd's victims.
First staged in 1979, the Victorian-era musical tells the story of how Todd returns to London years after being banished by a corrupt judge who has raped his wife, and goes on a vengeful killing spree.
At a press conference in Singapore in June, Salonga, 48, told The New Paper: "In news from the US, we constantly see injustices, like people being accused of crimes they didn't commit, and police brutality.
"The musical never seems to age because people tend to empathise with others who get squashed and silenced by those in power who can move around the world with impunity.
"Even though there are so many themes that initially seem off-putting, it's not seeing blood or the killing that gets audiences.
"It's how dark certain people's desires can be. It's the darker part of humanity which is interesting - the rest is just spectacle."
With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd will make its Singapore debut in November at the Sands Theatre.
To Salonga, playing the difficult-to-love Mrs Lovett feels like Christmas and a dream come true. She fell in love with the story when she watched Tim Burton's 2007 film version starring Johnny Depp as Todd and Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs Lovett.
However, she did not jump on the opportunity to play the character despite discussions with SRT over the years.
Salonga, who has a 13-year-old daughter, said: "It's one of those musicals where I felt I needed to get old enough and live life enough in order to play that role with authenticity, truth and honesty.
"Now it seems to be the right point in my life to do this particular show. I needed the experience of living - as a parent, wife, friend and somebody who works in theatre - and experience heartbreak, death and hardship, even through the eyes of people that you love. One cannot be sheltered and play Sondheim effectively."
WHAT Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
WHERE Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands
WHEN Nov 28 to Dec 8, various times
TICKETS From $55 via www.srt.com.sg