Synopsis and Songs
An ‘ORGAN PRELUDE’ welcomes the audience to a bleak industrial scene, before a chilling factory whistle begins the opening number. The ensemble sing ‘THE BALLAD OF SWEENEY TODD’ introducing the main characters to the stage. A young sailor Anthony returns to London accompanied by Sweeney Todd, who he saved from drowning in the sea off the coast of Australia. The pair now return to London ‘NO PLACE LIKE LONDON’ with Todd ready to seek revenge. As Anthony asks why Todd has negative feelings towards his home city, Todd tells of ‘THE BARBER AND HIS WIFE’ that resulted in him being sent to prison. Todd thanks Anthony for his help and the two part ways. Wandering down Fleet Street, Todd is welcomed into Mrs Lovett’s Pie Shop (‘THE WORST PIES IN LONDON’) where he begins to ask questions about his wife Lucy and daughter Joanna. Mrs Lovett recognises Todd as Benjamin Barker who she knew before he was arrested and sent to prison. She tells him how his wife was sexually abused by Judge Turpin and Beadle Bamford, before dying and that their daughter Joanna now lives as Turpin’s ward. Mrs Lovett presents Todd with his shaving razor that she has kept all these years and offers him the room above her shop to go back into the barber trade. Sweeney accepts and with revenge still on his mind states that his left arm feels complete once again. (‘MY FRIENDS’) The Ensemble sing a reprise of THE BALLAD OF SWEENEY TODD.
The scene changes to Judge Turpin’s house, where Johanna is locked up gazing out of the window onto the world (‘GREEN FINCH AND LINNET BIRD’). Anthony is drawn to her window and instantly falls in love with her. He is harassed by the Beggar Woman who tells him that Turpin keeps her shut away from the rest of London (‘AH, MISS’). As the Judge and Beadle return, they warn Anthony to stay away, although he vows that he will steal her away from her troubles (‘JOHANNA’).
In town Todd and Mrs Lovett go to witness a street barber Signor Pirrelli, whose assistant Tobias claims has a miracle hair elixir (‘PIRELLI’S MIRACLE ELIXER’). The Italian is challenged to a shaving contest by Todd, who invites Beadle Bamford to be the judge. After a long drawn out process (‘THE CONTEST’) Todd is called the winner and the Beadle promises to come to shop before the week is out. The ensemble increase the anticipation by singing a reprise of ‘THE BALLAD OF SWEENEY TODD’.
Todd becomes impatient at his parlour, wondering why the Judge and Beadle have not been to visit. Mrs Lovett calms him down and tells him things come to those who ‘WAIT’. Anthony bursts into the shop to find Todd, telling him of his romance with Johanna, not knowing Todd is her father. He asks if he can bring her to the parlour once he has freed her from her prison. Pirelli arrives with Tobias and reveals to Sweeney that he is in fact an old colleague who recognises his identity and blackmails him into giving over his profits each week. Todd panics and kills Pirelli, leaving Tobias downstairs tucking into one of Mrs Lovett’s pies. Mrs Lovett seems unfazed and takes a coin purse from his dead body. Judge Turpin flagellates himself over his lust for Johanna, and we see him delivering the death sentence to a petty criminal. He is comforted by the Beadle who attempts to shed some light on his relations with his ward, and women in general (‘LADIES IN THEIR SENSITIVITES’). Meanwhile, Anthony has broken into the Judge’s house and plans to elope with Johanna (‘KISS ME’). The Beadle suggests that the Judge tidies himself up, recommending Todd’s barber shop on Fleet Street. Todd is excited to finally have the Judge in his chair, and plays with him as they sing together ‘PRETTY WOMEN’. Anthony bursts into the parlour telling Todd and the Judge about his plan to elope with Johanna. The Judge recognises him and leaves in a hurry, cursing Todd and the company with which he keeps. Furious, Todd throws Anthony out. In his rage, Todd widens his focus, swearing revenge on society rather than just those who have wronged him and in a manic fit claims an ‘EPIPHANY’. Mrs Lovett seems more optimistic, suggesting that instead they join forces, using the flesh of Todd’s victims to fill her pies. They both enjoy the idea whilst singing ‘A LITTLE PRIEST’.
As Act Two opens Mrs Lovett’s pie shop is thriving with customers, each shouting for more pies, ‘GOD THAT’S GOOD’. Tobias now works for Mrs Lovett, and spends much of his time chasing away the Beggar Woman from the shop, who tells anyone who will listen that Mrs Lovett is a devil. With a new automated chair, Sweeney can kill his victims and send them directly down to Mrs Lovett’s kitchen. He begins to kill anyone who will not be missed, providing more than enough meat for each pie. Anthony is not as lucky and joins in with a quartet of ‘JOHANNA REPRISE’. Mrs Lovett tries to convince Todd to a simple life together ‘BY THE SEA’ although it is clear that he is distracted waiting for another chance to kill the Judge. When Anthony finds out that Johanna has been locked in Mr Fogg’s Asylum Todd helps him plan a rescue attempt as a wig-maker looking for hair. He instructs Anthony to rescue her and bring her to his shop, grabbing his chance to tempt the Judge back on his premises by sending him a letter detailing Anthony’s plan. The contents of the ‘LETTER’ are sung by the ensemble.
Tobias grows suspicious of Mr Todd and tries to protect Mrs Lovett, assuring her that he will let nothing bad happen to her ‘NOT WHILE I’M AROUND’. He recognises Pirelli’s purse and Mrs Lovett locks him in the bakehouse to keep him quiet. The Beadle calls round to investigate the smell coming from the bakery’s chimney, and Mrs Lovett is able to distract him with some ‘PARLOUR SONGS’. Todd them invites him up for a free shave, which sends his body down into the bakehouse, where Tobias suddenly realises exactly what has been going on. Anthony succeeds in rescuing Johanna, killing Mr Fogg in the process and leaving the inmates to roam the streets of London (‘CITY ON FIRE’). They rush back to Sweeney’s shop, and Johanna hides to avoid the Beggar Woman whilst Anthony leaves to find Mr Todd. As Todd finds the Beggar Woman in his parlour he slits her throat as he hears the Judge coming up the stairs. Once again he teases the judge, before revealing his true identity and sending him to his death (‘THE JUDGE’S RETURN’). Johanna emerges from her hiding place, and escapes. Mrs Lovett’s screams fill the bakehouse as she realises Todd has killed both the Judge and the Beggar Woman. As Todd enters he recognises the Beggar Woman as his wife Lucy, who instead of dying as Mrs Lovett said, went insane and ended up on the streets. As Todd weeps over killing his own wife, Mrs Lovett admits she didn’t tell him as she is in love with him herself. He dances with her, locking her in the bake-oven before holding his dying wife Lucy in his arms (‘FINAL SEQUENCE’). Tobias emerges from the dark, taking Todd’s razor and slicing Todd’s throat, as Joanna, Anthony and the police enter. The ensemble sing the final ‘BALLAD OF SWEENEY TODD’.
- Act I
- Organ Prelude / The Ballad of Sweeney Todd – The Company
- No Place Like London – Todd, Anthony and Beggar Woman
- The Barber and His Wife – Todd
- The Worst Pies in London – Mrs. Lovett
- Poor Thing – Mrs. Lovett
- My Friends – Todd and Mrs. Lovett
- The Ballad of Sweeney Todd (Reprise) – Company
- Green Finch and Linnet Bird – Johanna
- Ah, Miss – Anthony and Beggar Woman
- Johanna – Anthony
- Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir – Tobias Ragg, Todd, Mrs. Lovett and Company
- The Contest – Company
- The Ballad of Sweeney Todd (Reprise 2) – Ensemble
- Wait – Mrs. Lovett
- The Ballad of Sweeney Todd (Reprise 3) – Ensemble
- Johanna (Judge’s Song): Mea Culpa – Judge Turpin
- Kiss Me (Part I) – Johanna and Anthony
- Ladies in their Sensitivities – Beadle Bamford
- Kiss Me (Part II/Quartet) – Beadle Bamford, Johanna, Anthony and Judge Turpin
- Epiphany – Todd
- A Little Priest – Todd and Mrs. Lovett
- God, That’s Good! – Tobias, Mrs. Lovett, Todd and Company
- Johanna (Quartet) – Anthony, Todd, Johanna and Beggar Woman
- By the Sea – Mrs. Lovett
- Wigmaker Sequence
- Not While I’m Around – Tobias and Mrs. Lovett
- Parlor Songs – Mrs Lovett
- Final Sequence
- The Ballad of Sweeney Todd – Company