Sunderland Tea Rooms turns Victorian pie shop for Sweeney Todd production

Elephant Tea Room to host Sweeney Todd performance.
From left Liam Gilbert as Sweeney Todd, director Matthew Rankcom and Jenni Winter as Mrs Lovett
Elephant Tea Room to host Sweeney Todd performance. From left Liam Gilbert as Sweeney Todd, director Matthew Rankcom and Jenni Winter as Mrs Lovett
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Actors are hoping to cut it when they take over a city centre tearoom to stage thriller Sweeney Todd.

For four evenings next month Elephant Tea Rooms in High Street West will become a performance venue-cum-pie shop when new life is breathed into the Stephen Sondheim classic.

Elephant Tea Room to host Sweeney Todd performance.
From left Liam Gilbert as Sweeney Todd, director Matthew Rankcom and Jenni Winter as Mrs Lovett

Elephant Tea Room to host Sweeney Todd performance. From left Liam Gilbert as Sweeney Todd, director Matthew Rankcom and Jenni Winter as Mrs Lovett

The cast, a mixture of professional and amateur actors, will transport audiences to Victorian London where the demon barber of Fleet Street disposes of his clients with a razor before they’re made into pies and sold to unsuspecting customers.

The show is being produced by drama student Matthew Rankcom, 18, from Doxford Park, who is moving to Surrey after winning a place at the prestigious Guildford School of Acting.

Matthew, who has completed his studies at Newcastle College, said: “Our musical director is also moving to London as he’s going to teach music at ArtsEd. We both worked on another Sondheim show, Into The Woods, and are both obsessed with his work.

“So we decided to put together a show before we left. We thought it would be unique to stage it outside of a theatre and make it an immersive production. “We contacted a few venues, but Elephant Tea Rooms really got behind the idea and are doing a pre-show meal of pies and themed cocktails. There isn’t a stage area, the actors will be using the space and moving round the venue, even getting people involved. It makes it more of an experience for people.”

Elephant Tea Room to host Sweeney Todd performance.
 Liam Gilbert as Sweeney Todd and Jenni Winter as Mrs Lovett

Elephant Tea Room to host Sweeney Todd performance. Liam Gilbert as Sweeney Todd and Jenni Winter as Mrs Lovett

Speaking of the cast, he said: “We held auditions for roles and had a great response. A lot of the principal cast are actually professional actors and then there are few like me, who are drama students. It’s not your typical amateur theatre group.”

Sweeney Todd will be staged at the Elephant Tea Rooms from September 7-10 at 7.30pm. Tickets for the Friday night performance, on the 9th, are sold out but tickets remain for the other three nights, priced £10 for just the show or £18 with a meal.

They are available from https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/tearoomsweeney

Elephant Tea Room to host Sweeney Todd performance.
 Liam Gilbert as Sweeney Todd and Jenni Winter as Mrs Lovett

Elephant Tea Room to host Sweeney Todd performance. Liam Gilbert as Sweeney Todd and Jenni Winter as Mrs Lovett