Mayor declares London is open as Sweeney Todd hits the New York stage

19 September 2016

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today hailed the shared cultural ties between London and New York as he met the creative team bringing London’s critically acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the US.

Sadiq visited Barrow Street Theatre in Greenwich Village, which will be the venue for Tooting Arts Club’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, when it opens in February next year. Casting for the US production is now underway. The show originated in the Mayor’s home neighbourhood of Tooting in South London, in 2014, with just eight actors and three musicians taking over London’s oldest pie & mash shop, Harringtons, in Selkirk Road, Tooting, to perform Sondheim’s classic musical to an intimate audience of just 32.

The original show was a huge hit with critics and audiences and, with the help of legendary theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, transferred to London’s West End in 2015, staging the performance in a specially converted cocktail bar.

Today, Sadiq met with some of the British creative team behind the production, including producer Rachel Edwards, director Bill Buckhurst, designer Simon Kenny, music supervisor Benjamin Cox and lighting designer Amy Mae. The Mayor has been a huge supporter of Tooting Arts Club since it began producing work in his local area, enjoying their shows with his family and citing the club as one of his favourite cultural gems in the capital.

The Mayor of London’s visit highlights the many successful London/New York collaborations that are helping to ensure both cities’ reputations for cultural excellence, including the recent unveiling of David Shrigley’s Memorial in Central Park. On 29 September Sadiq Khan will join David Shrigley as he unveils his piece ‘Really Good’ on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

In addition, London-based artist Cornelia Parker’s ‘Transitional Object (Psychobarn)’ is currently installed on the roof of The Met Museum and Martin Creed’s ‘Work No. 2630 – Understanding’ is installed on the East river in Brooklyn. London’s Tate Modern and the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York have collaborated on a major retrospective of the work of Robert Rauschenberg, which will open in London in December 2016 following a successful run in New York.

Cross-Atlantic performing arts collaborations include the recently announced West End transfers of hit Broadway musicals Hamilton and School Of Rock. The National Theatre’s multi-award winning Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time recently closed on Broadway, following a hugely successful 23-month run and Complicités critically acclaimed The Encounter, starring Artistic Director Simon McBurney, opens tomorrow (20 September) at Golden Theatre, Broadway.

Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary has prompted many productions in New York, including Cheek By Jowl’s The Winter’s Tale, which opens at the Brooklyn Academy in December, whilst the Donmar Warehouse’s all-female The Tempest, opens at St Ann’s Warehouse in January 2017, concluding an unprecedented eight months of productions in the city.

New York’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater kick off their international tour with two weeks of performances at Sadler’s Wells in September 2016, and in November 2016, English National Opera will open William Kentridge’s co-production of Lulu, following a critically acclaimed run at the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

Sadiq Khan said: “There are few places on earth that can rival London for arts and culture. Culture is the DNA of our city and the world-renowned excellence of our capital’s museums, galleries, theatres and exhibitions has firmly positioned London as one of the most welcoming and culturally rich cities in the world. London is open for business, for visitors and for creative collaboration. London and New York have a long history of collaborating on cultural projects. That’s why I’m delighted to visit Barrow Street Theatre today to celebrate that special creative relationship and the incredible success story of Tooting Arts Club’s Sweeney Todd.

“As soon as Tooting Arts Club began producing work in my neighbourhood, it became one of my favourite arts organisations in London and I have enjoyed many of their shows. It really does sell the best of our great city with a truly diverse community of people from different backgrounds, races and cultures. Their success demonstrates the incredible creative talent which flows through London, to New York City and across the globe.”

Tooting Arts Club producer, Rachel Edwards said: “This production of Sweeney Todd started life in London’s oldest pie and mash shop in the heart of Sadiq’s Tooting constituency, the place I am proud to call home. It is a pleasure to meet up with Sadiq once more in his new role as Mayor of London. He was present at the Tooting Arts Club's launch party in 2011, and has been a constant supporter of our work ever since. We are thrilled at the prospect of bringing our pie shop Sweeney to New York, the home of the very man who wrote it, Stephen Sondheim. London is certainly open for business and Harrington’s pie and mash shop, having made the journey across the Atlantic all the way from Tooting Broadway, will open for business in Greenwich Village in the New Year. Just don't ask for eels, they don't travel well...”

In his first major international visit as Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is taking the message direct to New York, Chicago and Montreal that London is open for business and is a key destination for North American investment and tourism. Over five days (14-19 September), he will make a wide range of visits and meet senior politicians, officials and business leaders of world class cities which face similar issues, to discuss how to tackle his top priorities of regeneration, housing, social integration and growing the tech and cultural industries.

Notes to editors

  • About Tooting Arts Club:

“Tooting is everything that is best about our country – a truly broad community with people of different backgrounds, races and cultures. Tooting also has a full spectrum of people with varying degrees of wealth and prosperity.” 

Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting

We agree and also believe that for any community to grow and prosper it needs a healthy arts provision. It was in response to this need that, in 2011, Tooting Arts Club was born.  Being located in the community Tooting Arts Club productions give easy and affordable access to the dramatic arts for those this far south.  There is nothing to say we won’t travel further afield to reach other audiences, Sweeney being a case in point, but our work will always have the ambition of beginning in SW17.

And what will our work be like?  Good question, and the answer is hard to put in to words. More than anything we believe theatre should always be a good night out. We won’t lecture you, we’ll just tell good stories.  And we promise not to let you sit in the dark for more than twenty minutes without making you laugh. Or your money back. I’m deadly serious.

Tooting Arts Club does not have a permanent home, instead we collaborate with businesses and landlords for our venues, and it is this collaboration with the community that is at the heart of all of our work. 

Tooting Arts Club are also a registered Community Interest Company meaning that we are a non-for-profit organisation providing ‘work’ for and aimed at the local SW17 community.

http://www.tootingartsclub.co.uk/

  • About Tooting Arts Club’s production of Sweeney Todd:

In the winter of 2014, Tooting Arts Club staged Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece Sweeney Todd in London’s oldest pie and mash shop, Harrington’s Pie and Mash, number 3 Selkirk Road, Tooting.

Just 8 actors, 3 musicians and an audience of just 32, this intimate revival received exceptional reviews, 4 Off West end nominations, and on the last night a visit from Stephen Sondheim himself.

Due to its phenomenal success TAC re-mounted Sweeney Todd in Spring 2015 with the endorsement and help of no other than Sir Cameron Mackintosh.

  • Listings Information for Sweeney Todd

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Produced by Tooting Arts Club

Venue: Barrow Street Theatre, Greenwich House

Opens Tuesday 14 February 2017

Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim

Book by: Hugh Wheeler

Directed by: Bill Buckhurst

  • About the Barrow Street Theatre:

The Barrow Street Theatre is a 200 seat Off-Broadway venue operated by Producers Scott Morfee and Tom Wirtshafter, located in the historic Greenwich House, in New York's West Village. http://www.barrowstreettheatre.com/