Review Roundup: SWEENEY TODD Starring Lea Salonga and Jett Pangan - What Did the Critics Think?
Sweeney Todd officially opened on October 11 at The Theatre at Solaire in Manila, Philippines and will run until October 27. It will then transfer to the Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore from November 28 to December 8.
The cast also includes Ima Castro (The Beggar Woman), Andrew Fernando (Judge Turpin), Gerald Santos (Anthony Hope), Nyoy Volante (Adolfo Pirelli), Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante (Johanna), Luigi Quesada (Tobias), Arman Ferrer (Beadle), and Dean Rosen (Jonas Fogg). The company also features Steven Conde, Sarah Facuri, Christine Flores, Jep Go, Kevin Guiman, and Emeline Celis Guinid.
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Vince Vicentuan, BroadwayWorld: Undoubtedly, Lea Salonga's take on the iconic role of Mrs. Lovett wouldn't be spared from any Helena Bonham Carter reference. Yes, hers has that same Victorian Cockney squawk, but all other insinuations at comparison must die there. Make no mistake - Salonga's Lovett is multi-layered, more human, and beautifully sung. Not only does she exhibit vocal dexterity in the role (she has swept that notorious sweet voice under the rug), but she, just like Garcia, has also confronted her creative comfort zone. Lovett is Salonga's perfect vehicle to break away from her sweet and tragic roles, and who cares if she kills people for meat pies? Forget Kim, Fantine, Eponine, and Erzulie, Salonga has finally arrived.
Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN: But the musical's biggest surprise actually turned out to be Salonga. Mrs. Lovett has always been portrayed as a mere, quirky accomplice in Todd's killing spree but Salonga made her his equal. In fact, Mrs. Lovett could well be the greater evil, egging on Todd to murder to ensure an abundant supply of meat for her floundering pie shop, and at the same time to win his heart. Salonga made this perfectly clear, and delivered this with an unwavering accent and crystalline tones that turned her numbers, especially "By the Sea," into unexpected show-stoppers. So mesmerizing was her performance that oftentimes you forget that she's the country's "Broadway diva" as she disappears into this loud devil woman. This is by far the best musical theater outing of Salonga in the Philippines, post-"Miss Saigon," and the very long wait was well worth it.
Rhea Manila Santos, PUSH: Singer Jett Pangan plays the title role of the barber who plans for murder and revenge with a voice that commands your attention, even when when he is singing a sad and lonely song. Fresh from his stint in Miss Saigon in the UK, Gerald Santos plays the role of the innocent and naive Anthony and plays the role of a love struck teenager with natural ease. Nyoy Volante shines in his scenes as Sweeney Todd's rival barber Adolfo Firelli, a persona he obviously thoroughly enjoyed whenever he came onstage. Ima Castro also shows off her vocal prowess as the mysterious Beggar Woman.
Analette Abesamis, Rappler: Jett Pangan's exquisite vocals roared inside the theater the moment he started singing. I basked in the power and texture of his voice while he sang "My Friends." I wanted to put that moment in a bottle and take it home with me. His Sweeney Todd is not as dark as I have imagined and preferred - his is this man, exhausted from life's tragedy, searching for a semblance of peace and justice in the guise of killing fueled by revenge. I was expecting greatness from Lea Salonga, but I didn't expect to be punch-drunk from her portrayal of Mrs. Lovett. Salonga sunk her teeth into the meaty role and became Mrs. Lovett. It's as if she packed all the goodness in her in a box, leaving nothing but her dark side for everyone to see. This role displayed her versatility and growth as an actress. It cemented the fact that her talent is limitless and that the only way for her is to keep on improving as a performer.
BusinessWorld: The tandem of Mr. Pangan and Ms. Salonga was a joy to watch (this was the first musical I had seen featuring both actors since Baby, The Musical in 2004). Mr. Pangan's mysterious Sweeney Todd contrasts with Ms. Salonga's mystic but perky Mrs. Lovett. I particularly enjoyed the Mrs. Lovett solo "By the Sea," where she playfully fantasizes about living a life with Sweeney Todd. Ms. Salonga portrayed a character that is darker and the stark opposite the roles she is known for superbly.