Meet the Cast of Sweeney Todd: Neil Brown

"Expect flamboyance with a hint of Super Mario on cocaine"

Neil in rehearsal with Daren Street (Photo courtesy of  FRONT OF HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY )

Neil in rehearsal with Daren Street (Photo courtesy of FRONT OF HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY)

Character Name: Pirelli

Tell us about your character: He’s a bit of a tosser really. No need for method acting here. No really, I am actually my character. Expect flamboyance with a hint of Super Mario on cocaine. He thinks he’s the dog’s b******s when it comes to barbering and let’s face it, he’s right, I cut my dad’s hair all the time. 

Your favourite line your character has: “It was-a DA POPE!” Because everyone loves a religious reference. 

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? Me. (I guess the rest of the cast are okay too. Joking aside, we have a fantastic team who always deliver. Alison directing, Gary bringing his anti-faff policy backstage, Megan choreographing like a dancing machine (and tolerating my lack of dancing ability) - not to mention everyone else. Alison has a great vision, and I’m very excited to be a part of that this show!

What’s your favourite song in the show and why? Any song where the judge sings “Joanna”, just because it sounds like Alan Rickman as well as being incredibly rapey! I also like ‘Kiss me’ despite the fact that Joanna clearly dim... That harmony. That harmony…

Neil in rehearsal with the cast (Photo courtesy of  FRONT OF HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY )

Neil in rehearsal with the cast (Photo courtesy of FRONT OF HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY)

What other shows have you done? Most recently ‘Jerusalem’ with Pranksters in Guildford, which was great craic and probably the best set I’ve ever been on - a really fun show. I’ve done various other bits in the area, such as ‘Blackadder II’, ‘Bent’, ‘Road’. This is my second Simply show, having done ‘Grease’ as Roger. I truly am typecast as an arse! 
    
Has anything ever happened to you, on-stage, that wasn’t in the script? Well in ‘Jerusalem’ Paul Weems (who is also in this show) unfortunately, nearly slammed me into an aluminium mock-up of a Winnebago - I think his aim was to kill me after 3 months of intense rehearsal together! Also putting extreme porn into fake scripts for the mechanicals was a genius prank from one of the cast of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at school. It brought a whole new meaning to meta theatre. 

What musical moment first made you think, “I want to do that!”? I don’t know really, I’ve always enjoyed singing, I guess it’d have to be year 6 where I got the opportunity to play Bottom in the children’s version of Midsummer Night’s Dream at School. It was a bizarre musical written by the beeb (although still not as bad as the recent interpretation), so I had to sing a little solo. I still actually have a video from that - My parents were that proud that they transferred it to DVD a few years ago, clearly just in case I’m on an episode of ‘This is your life’ - heard it here first boys and girls! 
What are you enjoying most about being part of Simply Theatre? The social aspect is great, everyone tolerates my awful sense of humour and are a great laugh to be around. At the same time everyone’s driven to do a good job, Simply always put on great shows and it’s a privilege to be a part of.

What else do you do besides singing, dancing & acting? I run with my local club, Chiltern Harriers, who by the way are hosting a 10k race, Shardeloes, up in Amersham on 18th September, the day after the show. It is super cheap and a lovely route! Apart from running I currently am learning Japanese and am hoping to take an exam soon in basic competency. 

'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.

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.