Christopher Howell In Sweeney Todd
This trip was my second experience of an off-West End fringe theatre, this time at the slightly larger Union Theatre, a really special little venue honestly with such a great atmosphere and honestly a really brilliant set-up considering it is essentially a side-room of a pub. I remember sitting in a toasty-warm corner of the pub to have our pre-show drinks and seeing Chris Howell arrive and feeling so thrilled to see him again because it had felt like an absolute age since the last time I saw him. The thing that struck me the most about this performance was - as with my previous trip to an off-West End venue - the heaviness and closeness of the show in that kind of environment and the very different feel of the audience. Chris was, as always, absolutely brilliant, but the whole cast were really captivating and the overwhelming memory I have of the performance was of just how full and rich the small cast made the show feel and honestly it felt every bit as impactful as any full-scale musical production I have ever seen. After the show it felt very strange to basically be waiting in the hallway of the bar but all was made worth it immediately when Chris appeared with that big warm smile of his and one of his gentle hugs hello and it was a real treat to catch up with him and to see how much it meant to him that I had made it to the show even though it was at a smaller venue than the other shows I had come to see him in - the adventure was one I would have been thrilled with even without seeing him that day, because honestly it was a real treat and such a lovely, different experience, but hearing Chris great me with that "Hello darling" of his was a perfect cherry on top of a day which came along just when I had really needed some heartwarming cheering up - the theatre has always been such a great comfort to me, and it definitely struck again with this trip.