14 AUGUST 2004, Page 40

More head than heart

Toby Young

Sweeney Todd Trafalgar Studios at the Whitehall Theatre The Night Season Cottesloe

The taste of the public and the critics rarely coincides, particularly when it comes to musical theatre. The loathed and detested Andrew Lloyd Webber has accumulated a fortune of £400 million thanks to the unlettered masses, while Stephen Sondheim hasn't had a Broadway hit since Into the Woods in 1987. This may have something to do with the boy genius's choice of subject-matter.

In the showbiz satire Forbidden Broadway, Gerard Alessandrini summed up the composer's work to the tune of 'Comedy Tonight':

Something elitist Something defeatist Nothing you'd want to undermite