A Chain of Musicals: SWEENEY TODD


To purchase the Original Broadway Cast Recording of SWEENEY TODD, click on the image above.

In January, Musical Cyberspace is going to work through a chain of musicals. This is how it works: each day I will discuss, in brief, a musical linked to the previous day’s musical by some kind of common ground. It follows then, that if you – dear reader – liked the previous day’s show, then you might enjoy the current day’s show. Comments, as alway, are welcome!

If you like Marie Christine, then you might like Sweeney Todd.

Like Marie Christine, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh WheelerSweeney Todd is a revenge drama told using an excellent score. Both shows dust off an old legend and present them for a contemporary audience, although Sweeney Todd is a far more literal adaptation of its source material.

Sweeney Todd tells the story of Benjamin Barker, who returns to London from an unjust prison sentence in Australia imposed by a judge who lusts after his wife. Assuming a new identity, he hopes to return to his wife and daughter, but discovers – thanks to Mrs Lovett, the owner of a local pie shop, that his wife poisoned herself, leaving his daughter in the care of the same judge who raped his wife and sent him off to jail. The play tells the tale of how he exacts his revenge upon the judge, a path that leads to breakdowns, epiphanies, murder and cannibalism. Highlights include “The Worst Pies in London”, “Johanna”, “Epiphany”, “Pretty Women”, “A Little Priest” and “By the Sea”.

Marie Christine is a phenomenal musical, one of the best ever written. It’s brilliantly plotted and the manner in which Sweeney himself is reconceived as a tragic hero rather than a murderous avenger straight out of melodrama is a masterstroke. Tim Burton’s film adaptation largely missed out on the tragedy and heaped on the melodrama, which was an unfortunate misstep. Thankfully, a filming of the tour of Harold Prince’s brilliant original production of the show, featuring original cast member Angela Lansbury, is available for all to see.

So, now it’s time to share your thoughts on Sweeney Todd. And what shows would you suggest to fans of this show? See which one we’ll feature here tomorrow…

This entry was posted in Hugh Wheeler, Michael John LaChiusa, Stephen Sondheim and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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