Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Directed by Steve Wilson


Set in 19th century London, this thrilling musical is the tale of an ousted barber and his revenge on those who did him wrong. He partners with the unscrupulous Mrs. Lovett and then things get a little messy!

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More Show Info

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a 1979 musical thriller with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler, based on a 1973 play of the same name by Christopher Bond. Sweeney Todd was a critical success, winning both the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Olivier Award for Best New Musical.

The character of Sweeney Todd had its origins in serialized Victorian popular fiction, known as “penny dreadfuls”. A story called The String of Pearls was published in a weekly magazine during the winter of 1846-47. Set in 1785, the story featured as its principal villain a certain Sweeney Todd and included all the plot elements that were used by Sondheim and others ever since. The psychopathic barber’s story proved instantly popular – it was turned into a play before the ending had even been revealed in print. An expanded edition appeared in 1850, an American version in 1852, a new play in 1865. By the 1870s, Sweeney Todd was a familiar character to most Victorians.

Sondheim’s musical was, in fact, based on Christopher Bond’s 1973 spooky melodrama, which introduced a psychological background to Todd’s crimes. In Bond’s reincarnation of the character, Todd was the victim of a ruthless judge who raped his young wife and exiled him to Australia. Bond’s sophisticated plot and language significantly elevated the lurid nature of the tale. Sondheim once noted, “It had a weight to it . . . because [Bond] wrote certain characters in blank verse. He also infused into it plot elements from Jacobean tragedy and The Count of Monte Cristo. He was able to take all these disparate elements that had been in existence rather dully for a hundred and some-odd years and make them into a first-rate play.”

Sondheim felt that the addition of music would greatly increase the size of the drama, transforming it into a different theatrical experience. Music proved to be a key element behind the impact of Sweeney Todd on audiences. Over eighty percent of the production is set to music, either sung or orchestrated underneath dialogue. The score is one vast structure, each individual part meshing with others for the good of the entire musical machine. Never before or since in his work has Sondheim utilized music in such an exhaustive capacity to further the purposes of the drama. Sondheim has often said that his Sweeney Todd was about obsession and what Sondheim thought of as “a small horror piece” eventually became a colossal portrait of the Industrial Revolution, the distribution of wealth, inequality, class structure, and finally, LOVE.

Cast List

Reginald, Riley, Edward, Alfie, Bobbie: Ben Franklin
Alistair, St.John, Adolfo Pirelli: Joey Gutzmann
Harrisford, Louie, Albert, Liam , Mr Fogg: Tom Augustine
Bronwyn: Margaret Bohn
Victoria: Katherine Ahrens
Anthony: Loren Kelly
Sweeney Todd: Trevor Clementi
Beggar Woman: Ellie Thelen
Mrs. Lovett: Liz Wustrack
Young Lucy Barker: Sammie Petersen
Beadle Bamford: Jerome Poltrock
Judge Turpin: Daniel Schneider
Tobias: Roan Henslin
Amelia: Grace Quast
Beatrix: Eva Thelen
Clementine: Elise Winkel
Elsie: Bekki Kuber
Johanna: Marissa Krueger
Bird Seller: Nora Otte
Eugenie: Pam Mase
Evie: Kim Fleming
Finley, Criminal: Gavin Twohig
Gracie: Hannah Koechel
Harriet: Katherine Behlke

FEMALE ENSEMBLE: Calyn Jones, Niah Schauer, Valerie Wentland, Jenna Beckman, Marianna Leventhal, Anna Quast, Katie Ziegler

SLASHING VICTIMS: Parker Hambrick, Joe Lander