Ripon Grammar School

Ripon’s gruesome musical

5 March 2024

Ripon Grammar School students are rising to the challenge of bringing a dark and gruesome musical with a chilling edge to the stage.

60 actors, musicians, backstage and technical crew, from age 11 to 18, are throwing themselves into telling the complex and grisly yet humorous tale of Sweeney Todd.

They will be performing the story of revenge, a bloody barber and a deranged baker to an audience of more than 1,000 over three nights at 7.30pm from Wednesday, 6 March to Friday, 8 March.

The title character in their ambitious adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical – the vengeful barber who is out for blood – is being played by Jamie Tabor, from Ripon.

The 17-year-old, who played the title role of Joseph in Ripon Youth Theatre’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, is relishing playing such a different character.

Tassy Bell, who plays Johanna, a stolen child, in the black comedy, said excitement is building:

The feeling is electric, especially since the set arrived. The cast and crew are really pulling together, and the show looks like it’ll be a brilliant, if a little gruesome, occasion.

It’s about a man mistreated by a corrupt system seeking out revenge. It’s about a woman trying to make a living from poverty and it’s about a broken family.

The 17-year-old, from Thirsk, added: “Of course, it’s also about love, hope and cooking people into pies, so a real mix of feelings, certainly.

RGS director of music Michael Barker said it was a complex show. Regarded as one of the most difficult scores in musical theatre, it’s often put on by opera companies.

RGS director of music Michael Barker said:

Students have been working really hard, we have a wonderful stage set and collection of singers and musicians ready to tell this grisly tale.


Francesca Kirkman, a member of the ensemble cast, feels confident the audience will love it:

I love the original Sweeney Todd show, but I feel we’ve made it even better.

The main cast are brilliant, and the orchestra very talented.

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