Meet the Cast of Sweeney Todd: Akhil Gowrinath

"...35 shows later and I’ve still got the bug!"

Akhil (Photo courtesy of  FRONT OF HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY )

Akhil (Photo courtesy of FRONT OF HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY)

Your Name: Akhil Gowrinath

Character Name: Judge Turpin

Tell us about your character: “Most Honourable Judge Turpin”… or not! The Judge is a true villain – he arranges for the undeserving Sweeney to be arrested because he has a bit of thing for Lucy. I wish I could say that was the worst thing he does in the show but, alas, I can’t! He potentially has one redeemable moment in the show as he adopts Sweeney’s daughter Johanna, but ruins that by his lecherous advances towards her once she turns 16…creepy! 

Your favourite line your character has: “There is indeed a higher power to warn me thus in time” – this line was originally cut, but after I was cast I persuaded Alison (Director) to put it back in. I can’t tell you why it’s my favourite – I just like it.

Everyone knows something of the Sweeney Todd story (slitting throats and dubious pies), but what extra do you think we will get from the Simply version of this Sondheim telling? An ensemble of characters – Sweeney Todd’s ensemble typically is very hard to direct – they are effectively the story tellers of the show and it’s very easy to make them just that – but by adding in characters within that – the show creates an almost immersive atmosphere by drawing the audience into the story. Also, the choreography in the show sets it apart from others.

Akhil as Judge Turpin in rehearsal (Photo courtesy of  FRONT OF HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY )

Akhil as Judge Turpin in rehearsal (Photo courtesy of FRONT OF HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY)

What’s your favourite song in the show and why? 'Johanna' (Act 2) – I love this song – a really beautifully written quartet. I also love that Sweeney sings this lovely song as he kills people, which adds to the dark comedic essence of the entire show.

What other shows have you done? This is my 2nd show with Simply, having played Benny in RENT last year. Far too many to list them all, but other roles include Eddie (Made in Dagenham), Jamie (The Last 5 Years), Seaweed (Hairspray), Jim Conley (Parade), Willard (Footloose) and Harry (Company).

Has anything ever happened to you, on-stage, that wasn’t in the script? Several matinee pranks! One that comes to mind was in 'Our House' when I played Emmo. The premise was that I indicated that I was going to take my top off and then get shot down by two of the other characters. During the matinee, they decided to not shoot me down and actually get me to take my top off… I was so taken aback that I completely broke character, almost did take my top off then remembered I had a mic belt on so couldn’t and just mumbled “erm…no”. 

What musical moment first made you think, “I want to do that!”? I’d always loved acting but never knew I could sing. My last opportunity to perform at school was a musical, (you may have heard of it) Les Miserables (it’s funny cos I hadn’t heard of it at all!). So I thought I may as well audition and managed to get some decent singing parts in the show. Doing the show gave me such a buzz, that I had to continue doing musicals! 35 shows later and I’ve still got the bug!

What are you enjoying most about being part of Simply Theatre? The social aspect of Simply is one of the best I’ve encountered in the am-dram world! Also, it’s always nice to perform with such a talented group of people. Additionally, this year there hasn’t been a huge crossover with the people who were in 'RENT' last year and so it’s meant meeting a whole bunch of new people, which I always like!

What else do you do besides singing, dancing & acting? By day, I’m a mild mannered tax advisor at a global accountancy firm. By night…I’m Batman…don’t tell anyone! 

'Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' runs from Thursday 15th September until Saturday 17th at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking - tickets are on sale now. You can book at our box office.