Actor sinks teeth into Sweeney Todd

Guilherme Noronha came to the realisation long ago that he would never be the obvious love lead choice.

So, instead, the singer/actor focused on being bad.

“My range is a lyrical ­baritone and I figured a long time ago that I would never get the love leads so I decided I would go for the villain,” Guilherme said.

It’s this thinking that has served Guilherme well with the young Rutherford man scoring the lead role of Sweeney Todd in the Maitland Gilbert & Sullivan’s upcoming ­production of the eponymous musical.

In the original version of the tale, Todd is a barber who ­dispatches his victims by pulling a lever as they sit in his chair. His victims fall backward down a revolving trapdoor into the basement of his shop, ­causing them to break their necks or skulls.

In case they are alive, Todd goes to the basement and slits their throats with a razor.

After Todd has robbed his victims of their goods, his ­partner in crime helps him

dispose of the bodies by baking their flesh into meat pies.

“This is a role I have been wanting to play for a very long time,” Guilherme, 29, said.

“And I’m really enjoying reading into Sweeney Todd and learning about his journey through the musical because it is quite a dark story.

“This is basically a bloke who has been hard done by and wants to get revenge so it’s a role you can really get your teeth into . . . it’s gusty.”

Born and bred in Maitland, Guilherme’s love of music and theatre began when he was just a child.

“I do come from a musical family,” Guilherme said.

“Mum plays the piano, both of my brothers play musical instruments, I can bash out a couple of notes on the piano and dad plays CDs.

“There was music playing all the time when I was growing up.”

When he was about 13 Guilherme joined the junior branch of the Maitland Repertory Theatre. At 14 he tried his hand at musical theatre with the Maitland Gilbert & Sullivan Society.

“There was a lot of toing and froing between the two for a couple of years,” Guilherme said.

After school Guilherme went to the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney to study musical theatre.

And in 2010 he met his wife and fellow Maitland Repertory Theatre member Lesley Coombes.

“Lel and I met in 2010 at an improvisation night and a year later, when I was directing the annual melodrama, I decided to jump up on opening night, sing a song and propose,” Guilherme said.

Lesley and Guilherme married earlier this year and are now in their fourth year as co-directors for the junior theatre.

“It’s all been a really good journey,” Guilherme said.

“And I just love seeing ­people enjoy a show. If the audience walks out raving about a performance then I’ve done my job.

“I am an entertainer and I just love to entertain. 

“It’s not about me, it’s about the audience losing themselves for a few hours.”

In the coming months Guilherme will also play Joseph Buquet (chief theatre stagehand) in the Metropolitan Players production of Phantom of the Opera in Newcastle and also co-direct The Wizard of Oz at the Maitland Repertory Theatre.

“The performing arts community around here is like one big family,” Guilherme said.

“Everyone knows each other and the thing I love about the performing arts in Maitland and Newcastle is that it’s this niche community.

“We welcome new people with open arms, gone are the days of real cattiness. It’s now more supportive. Non-professional musical theatre is something we do because we love it.”

Sweeney Todd opens at Maitland High School on October 4 with performances at Hope Estate Winery and Hexham Bowling Club to ­follow.

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