Sweeney Todd is the new hot ticket in town. Residing at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End, the tale of the demon barber of Fleet Street and his bloodthirsty quest for revenge is drawing in theatre-goers on a nightly basis and has been described as ‘an absolute triumph’ of a show by critics. The pairing of Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton as Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett respectively has given rise to an outstanding theatrical experience, bolstered by the rest of the equally fabulous cast. Amongst them is one performer who certainly epitomises talent in every area: Will Barratt.
Barratt is one of the ensemble members of Sweeney Todd, who meets a grizzly end in Todd’s barber chair. He was part of the original cast when the musical production premiered at the Chichester Festival Theatre prior to its transfer to the West End. Before joining this cast though, he had already been making his mark in the world of musical theatre.
Barratt trained at the Royal Academy of Music and has always been a musical person. He took piano and keyboard lessons as a child, learning piano at the Royal Northern College of Music at the weekends, and sung in his school choir, performing ‘The Snowman’ at the Victoria Hall in Stoke-on-Trent with the BBC Philharmonic. He also found influence in his father, who is a performer. After graduating from RAM, he was involved in a number of amateur productions which is where he realised his passion for musical theatre, and once deciding that was the direction he wanted to take, he didn’t look back. Barratt has had roles in a range of shows, including Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar (RHUL), Jimmy Powers in City of Angels and Roscoe/Patrick in Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens (Bloomsbury), lead tenor and understudy Leo/Carmen in The Producers (Drury Lane), Nur in Chiu Chin Chow (Finborough), ensemble and understudy Billy/Mr Snow in Carousel (Tour, West End) and Bamatabois/emsemble/understudy Enjolras in Les Miserables (Palace Theatre). He was also involved in the workshop of the Phantom sequel Love Never Dies.
Before he started on his current adventure in Sweeney Todd, Barratt spent several years in the company of The Phantom of the Opera. He began in the Phantom ensemble covering the role of Raoul, which he then went on to take over full-time. Barratt was playing Raoul for Phantom’s 10,000th performance, which saw composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and original Phantom Michael Ball make an on-stage appearance at the end of the night – alongside a giant Phantom-themed cake. It was during his time with the show that I first came across him. The cast of Phantom organised a late-night cabaret at the Delfont Room in 2011 in aid of The Make A Difference Trust, the West End charity I volunteer with. I was involved in the event and attended one of their rehearsal sessions where I not only got to see Barratt running through his performances for the night but also demonstrating his skill on the piano. I also got to hear the original song he and fellow cast member Nadim Naaman (who is playing Raoul in Phantom all next week actually; I recommend you go and see his performance) wrote for the cabaret, ‘A Complicated Love’. It was a stunning composition which quickly cemented him in my mind as a talented songwriter. The Trust were so impressed with Barratt in fact, that he was invited to be one of our special guest performers at the annual MADTrust Garden Party, where he (joined by Phantomers Nadim Naaman and Kate Batter) showcased more of his material, to great aplomb. More recently, he performed at another of the charity’s increasingly popular annual events, A West End Christmas; the Christmas-themed concert held at The Actors Church in Covent Garden. Having proven himself a great supporter of MADTrust and fast becoming a regular face at our events, the Trust are always pleased to work with Barratt – he will next pop up in Sweeney Todd’s performance entry for West End Eurovision at the Dominion Theatre on Thursday 26th April 2012.
A man who is gifted in so many ways, Will Barratt has already accrued a number of accomplishments in his career thus far, including a leading role in the musical which inspired him: Phantom. There are still so many more accomplishments ahead for him to work towards. Barratt has ambitions to play several particular roles in musical theatre, such as Enjolras/Jean Valjean (Les Miserables), Chris/John (Miss Saigon) and the Phantom (The Phantom of the Opera) and has spoken out before on the constant learning curve that comes with working with such a rich variety of West End performers. The musical theatre road is a rocky one full of hurdles and there are many would-be stars who fall at some point in their journey, but I suspect Will Barratt is going to be one of the individuals who manage to make it all the way.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Saturday 7th April 2012