Ben Mingay plays Sweeney Todd for State Opera of SA
Victorian-era villain Sweeney Todd, who murders his victims with a razor before his criminal partner turns them into pies, offers bass-baritone Ben Mingay another dark and meaty role.
Fresh out of Carousel, the State Opera’s concert production of classic Rodgers and Hammerstein, Ben Mingay is set to return in another dark musical role for the company as Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet. Street.
Stephen Sondheim’s musical was originally slated to be on State Opera’s schedule last year, before COVID caused most of its 2020 schedule to be postponed.
“I love going up there and singing a big bass and baritone song,” Mingay says.
Sweeney Todd is based on the fictional Victorian-era villain who murders his victims with a straight razor before his crime partner, Mrs. Lovett, turns them into pies.
“I’ve always had this ability to play a pretty dark character,” says Mingay, who played struggling carnival worker Billy Bigelow in Carousel and also appeared as the dangerous rancher Jud in a Melbourne production of Oklahoma. !
Mingay unwittingly was able to sharpen his actual knowledge of butchery for Sweeney Todd during last year’s lockdown.
He was halfway through a nationwide tour of Shrek The Musical when COVID hit. Rather than return to Sydney – where he had rented his house – Mingay returned to Newcastle, where his family still lives.
“It was amazing – I had never spent more than a week or two at home since I left school,” he says.
“I was going to take the traditional tools and go back… but I started to get the whole family together and we were cooking big chunks of premium beef over the open fire.
His sister then told him that a Newcastle-based company, Binnie Beef – specializing in Wagyu beef – had just converted its operations from an export business to also sell locally.
“I went there to buy wagyu, and I happened to know the girl from school and her husband,” Mingay said.
“It naturally made me a business development and brand ambassador for them.”
Between shows on stage, Mingay starred in the Channel 9 drama series Amazing Grace and has just filmed a second season of the ABC / UK comedy Frayed.
He first performed Sweeney Todd for the Western Australian Opera in 2019, with Antoinette Halloran as his baker’s accomplice Ms. Lovett, conducted by Stuart Maunder of the State Opera.
The same team will meet for Adelaide’s season.
“It’s such a good show… Stuart Maunder just has this knack of honoring a play,” Mingay says.
“You really want to keep the classic character of these pieces… but he manages to squeeze into some really current themes. He’s a real artist that way.
Sweeney Todd, Her Majesty’s Theater, May 8-15. Book at LOW