* Dewi Wykes with Bryn Terfel and the two other young singers
chosen to appear in Sweeney Todd, Tom Hier and Lauren Morris.
An unknown young singer from the Vale of Clwyd has been hand-picked by opera legend
Bryn Terfel to join him on stage at this year’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
Dewi Wykes, a 14-year-old pupil from Ysgol Brynhyfryd, in Ruthin, will play Tobias Ragg
alongside the great bass-baritone from Caernarfon and an all-star cast in a performance of
Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Bryn Terfel said: “It was a wonderful performance, the standard one would expect for
Llangollen, and to have a 14-year-old boy there is a real bonus.
“It’s a one-off performance and I can’t wait. It will be a special day in Llangollen when we
Alongside Bryn making the decision was Synfonia Cymru conductor Gareth Jones and he
believes young Dewi will make a big impression: “He will bring the house down, I don’t doubt
it for a minute,” he said.
“He has one of those faces that will fill even a big stage like the Pavilion – you’re going to get
everything from him.”
A delighted Dewi, who performed two songs from the show, Miracle Elixir and Not While I’m
Around, said afterwards: “At first I was so nervous I was shaking but as soon as Bryn Terfel
started clapping I got more confident.
“I think he enjoyed it and I enjoyed it too. I just can’t get over it now. It’s like dream.
“The first person I told was my nain because she told me about the auditions.”
Dewi’s mum, Jenny, said: “It was my mum and dad, Llinos and Tyrone Powell-Jones, who
live in Wrexham, who saw about the auditions in the newspaper so it’s all down to them.
“We entered but I never thought we’d get this far, it’s brilliant and he’s had lots of support.
“At Brynhyfryd his music teacher, Tim Healey, has been brilliant, and so have Nia Wyn
Jones, from Ysgol Maes Garmon, and Ann Atkinson, as well as Ann Davies who conducts
Cor Cytgan which Dewi is a member of and who are also singing at the Eisteddfod later in
In all over 80 young singers tried out for the three parts and these were whittled down to just
12 for the final auditions when the roles of Tobias and the show’s star-crossed young lovers,
Anthony and Johanna, were decided.
Joining Dewi on stage will be tenor Tom Hier, 20, from Merthyr, and Lauren Morris, 21, from
Solihull, who also came through the final auditions and will take their places in the cast when
the acclaimed Broadway hit is staged at the Royal International Pavilion on Monday, July 7,
the curtain-raiser to this year’s six-day Eisteddfod.
Eisteddfod Musical Director Eilir Owen Griffiths said: “It was a brilliant day. It was a pleasure
to be here. I think we’ve got some fantastic individuals who are going to create a fantastic
“I think the young performers Bryn has chosen will be able to hold their ground next to the
big stars like Bryn and Wynne Evans.
“Lauren and Tom had a real magic together and to find a 14-year-old with the talent Dewi
has was just amazing and has made my day.
“We’ve found three young up and coming stars of the future and we at Llangollen can give
them that first stage on which to shine and that was the reason for holding these auditions.”
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Sondheim is set in 19th
London and tells the story of the crazed barber who murders his clients and supplies the
bodies to his accomplice, piemaker Mrs Lovett.
Dewi will play street urchin Tobias Ragg who works for Todd’s rival, Pirelli (Wynne Evans)
and then for Mrs Lovett.
Sondheim’s multi-award winning classic was first performed on Broadway in 1979 and
has since been a regular production across the world and on the big screen in 2007 when
superstar Johnny Depp played Todd and Helena Bonham Carter was Mrs Lovett.
Bryn Terfel, who took the role in 2002 in Chicago, is fresh from a performance of it by the
New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lincoln Center in New York last month when
Oscar-winner Emma Thompson played Mrs Lovett.
He said: “That was a fair crack of the whip with lots of blood and playing this man driven by
“It was very impressive to have Stephen Sondheim there and telling you what he thought of
the performance. It’s his favourite work and has been performed all over the world and made
into a Hollywood blockbuster.
“It will be special doing it in Llangollen and with Gareth Jones there conducting the Sinfonia
Cymru and I can’t wait.”
It will be the first time he has performed on the International Eisteddfod stage since he
opened the 2006 festival, his first appearance at Llangollen in a decade.
Sweeney Todd will be the curtain raiser to six tremendous days at Llangollen which begin on
Tuesday, July 8, with this year’s concerts featuring Dutch jazz diva Caro Emerald, American
tenor star Noah Stewart, a new work by composer Karl Jenkins, the Cape Town Opera, the
Choir of the World competition on Saturday night and legendary British rockers Status Quo
closing the event on Sunday night.
To book tickets and for more information on the 2014 festival go to the website at