The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – sioe gerdd gyffrous
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
From an adaptation by Christopher Bond
Originally directed by Harold Prince
Original orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick
After 15 years of wrongful imprisonment, barber Sweeney Todd returns to London in search of his wife and daughter. He loses his mind when pie-shop owner Mrs Lovett reveals their respective murder and mistreatment at the hands of a sinister Judge. His grizzly quest for revenge leads to a heartbreaking discovery.
Sweeney Todd fills a void with a bloody and blind quest for vengeance. Those who enter his shop get more than a close shave. The unlucky ones ending up in Mrs Lovett’s rather unsavoury pies, proving you are what you eat.
Sondheim’s masterpiece is by turns hugely funny, terrifying and deeply sad. It works on a number of different levels, is complex but always engaging. In a scene of high comedy, Mrs Lovett explains why hers are ‘The worst pies in London’. In another, Sweeney is reunited with the razor blades he left behind when he was wrongfully imprisoned. There are few scenes like it. On one hand it is disturbing – he regards the razors as his friends and begins to be distanced from the real world – but it is also strangely moving. The musical’s finale is devastating but also hugely cathartic.
James Brining’s thrilling production is set in the late 1970s/early 1980s. It emphasises Sondheim’s message that it’s not just Sweeney who is insane. Through its corruption and inequality, society is totally mad. See Sweeney Todd and you’ll find that it buries itself in your consciousness and refuses to leave. Sweeney Todd has all the emotional impact of the greatest operas. It deserves to be performed by the forces of our Chorus and Orchestra.
Originally produced on Broadway by Richard Barr, Charles Woodward, Robert Fryer, Mary Lea Johnson, Martin Richards in association with Dean and Judy Manos.
Presented by arrangement with JOSEF WEINBERGER LIMITED on behalf of MUSIC THEATRE INTERNATIONAL of New York.
Co-production with Wales Millennium Centre and West Yorkshire Playhouse in association with Royal Exchange Theatre.