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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has been called many things: a musical thriller, a black operetta, a "grusical," but whatever you call it, it is one of beloved composer Stephen Sondheim's greatest creations. Based on the 1973 play of the same name by Christopher Bond, it is a violent story of obsession and revenge with a touch of dark humor and a dash of romance. Musically, it has one of the most complex and difficult scores of any show, incorporating a great deal of polyphonic counterpoint (voices moving independently in melody and rhythm). Some of its songs have become favorites of the musical theatre canon, including "The Worst Pies in London," "My Friends," "Epiphany," "A Little Priest," and "Not While I'm Around." Order Sweeney Todd tickets today to see these classic numbers performed live!
Sweeney Todd premiered at the Uris Theatre (now the Gershwin, home of Wicked), on March 1, 1979, starring Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury. The original production won 8 out of 9 Tony Awards for which it was nominated, including the coveted trio of Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book, as well as statues for Cariou and Lansbury. It has since been produced and revived on Broadway and in London's West End, performed on national tours, and even tackled by several opera companies. The notable 2004 London revival and subsequent 2005 Broadway revival (starring the great Patti LuPone), both directed by John Doyle, showed innovation by eliminating the orchestra and having the actors play their own instruments onstage. No matter which production you see, Sweeney Todd is a guaranteed thrilling time at the theater. Get your tickets today and experience the devilish fun that is Sweeney Todd!Plot Synopsis:
On the dark streets of London in the mid-1800s, a group of London citizens begins to tell "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" (they reappear throughout the show to comment on the most dramatic developments). Sweeney Todd awakens and rises from his grave.
Cut to Anthony Hope, a young man riding a ship into a harbor in London with his sullen shipmate, Sweeney Todd. As they disembark, a mad beggar woman accosts and begs from them, but Todd sends her away. Before they part to their respective business in the city, Todd tells Anthony the heartbreaking story of a naive barber who was exiled by a wicked judge so that he could claim his wife.
On his own, Todd visits Fleet Street and enters the meat pie shop there, where he meets its owner and operator, Mrs. Nellie Lovett. After she explains the difficulties of running the shop in such tough financial times, he inquires about her upstairs apartment. She tells him the tragic tale of a young barber named Benjamin Barker whose wife was stolen away by the devious Judge Turpin and the despicable Beadle Bamford. Once Turpin had Barker exiled to Australia, he captured his poor wife, Lucy. When Todd screams out in anguish, Mrs. Lovett confirms that he was indeed Benjamin Barker, but now that he is consumed by bitterness and a longing for revenge, he has transformed into Sweeney Todd. She tells him that his wife poisoned herself and that their young daughter, Johanna, is now Judge Turpin's ward. Todd swears to rescue Johanna and kill Judge Turpin. Mrs. Lovett then presents him with his precious silver razors, which she has been saving for years, and encourages him to make a living by once again becoming a barber.
Elsewhere, Anthony happens by a lovely girl in a window who is revealed to be Johanna, trapped in her room by the over-protective and possessive Judge Turpin. He vows to rescue her but is scared away by the Judge and the Beadle. Meanwhile, Todd and Mrs. Lovett encounter an exhibition in the marketplace for a hair-loss miracle cure by the famous Italian barber Adolfo Pirelli and his assistant, Tobias. Todd calls him out as a fraud, beats him in a public shaving contest, and invites the judge, the Beadle, for a free shave in his shop. Several days later, as Todd impatiently waits for the Beadle, Pirelli arrives in his shop. He reveals himself to be the Irish Danny O'Higgins, former assistant to Benjamin Barker, and tries to blackmail Todd, who immediately strangles him and hides him in a trunk.
In an attempt to curb the disgust of Johanna, who he plans to marry, Judge Turpin comes to Todd's shop for a shave. As he lulls the Judge into a sense of security, Anthony barges in with plans to elope with Johanna. Outraged, Turpin storms out and Todd's resulting fury drives him to a maddened, murderous state. He now vows revenge on the rich and corrupt and vows to put the poor and suffering out of their misery with the help of his razor-sharp blades. Discussing what to do with Pirelli's body, Mrs. Lovett, concerned with their meager budget and the shortage of meat for her pie shop, convinces Todd to skip the secret burial and be more "thrifty" with his ample supply of flesh. Soon, Todd's murderous intentions become Mrs. Lovett's financial windfall. Get your Sweeney Todd tickets right away to see all of the shockingly sordid developments for yourself.Run Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission Advisory: Recommended for young teens and older (violence, adult themes) Awards: 1979 Tony Awards: 9 nominations, 8 wins 1979 Drama Desk Awards: 13 nominations, 9 wins 1990 Tony Awards: 4 nominations 1990 Drama Desk Awards: 5 nominations, 1 win 2006 Tony Awards: 6 nominations, 2 wins 2006 Drama Desk Awards: 9 nominations, 4 wins Creative Team (Original): Composer/Lyricist Stephen Sondheim Book Hugh Wheeler Sweeney Todd News: October 9, 2013: It is announced that Emma Thompson will lead the New York Philharmonic's production Sweeney Todd, which will run from March 5-8, 2014! December 21, 2007: The feature film adaptation of Sweeney Todd, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, is released in theaters!