Updated: Sep 21, 2020
"The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
As part of our RCT Musical Theater Virtual Review Series, we take a look at our 2017 production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
In the opening number (above) “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” the lights come up on London in the nineteenth century and a man invites the audience to attend the tale of Sweeney Todd. The citizens of London, who act as a Greek chorus throughout the play, witness Todd rising from the ashes of his past life, ready to seek his revenge. Performed on the Rose Center Theater stage in Westminster, California; the Orange County production of Sweeney Todd, produced by RCT Musical Theater Productions, played a limited two week engagement from September 15 to 24, 2017. The production was directed and musically directed by Tim Nelson and choreographed by Jennifer Simpson-Matthews and Diane Makas. The cast included Chris Caputo as Sweeney Todd, Barbara Hinrichsen as Mrs. Lovett, Garrett Brown as Tobias, Dale Jones as Judge Turpin, Melissa Cook as Johanna, Jerred Yeash as Anthony, Trevin Stephenson as Beadle, and Mary Murphy-Nelson as Beggar Woman.
Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (often referred to simply as Sweeney Todd), is a 1979 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Hugh Wheeler. Based on the 1973 play of the same name by Christopher Bond, Sweeney Todd tells the tale of an unjustly exiled barber (Sweeney Todd), who returns to nineteenth century London, seeking vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. The road to revenge leads Todd to Mrs. Lovett, a resourceful proprietress of a failing pie shop, above which, he opens a new barber shop practice. Mrs. Lovett’s luck sharply shifts when Todd’s thirst for blood inspires the integration of an ingredient into her meat pies that has the unsuspecting people of London lining up.
The original production premiered on Broadway at the Uris Theatre on March 1, 1979 and closed on June 29, 1980 after 557 performances and 19 previews. Directed by Hal Prince, the cast featured Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett and Len Cariou as Sweeney Todd. The production was nominated for nine Tony Awards, winning eight, including Best Musical. The first London production opened on July 2, 1980 at the West End’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and starred Dennis Quilley (Todd) and Sheila Hancock (Lovett). The production went on to win the Olivier Award for Best New Musical before closing on November 14, 1980 after 157 performances.
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