history

1846:The character of Sweeney Todd is introduced inserialized Victorian popular fiction (known as “penny dreadfuls”—sold for a penny) in a story called“The String of Pearls.”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.


1973:The play“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”by Christopher Bond debutsat Theatre Royal Stratford East, where Sondheim seesit and beginsto conceive the idea for a musical. Sondheim 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 ahundred and some-odd years and make them into a first-rate play.”


1979:The musical version of“Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street”(based on the play) by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, premieres, directed by Hal Prince and starring AngelaLansbury and Len Cariou. The production isnominated for nine Tony Awards, winning eight including Best Musical.


1980:The musical premieres on London’s West End at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The production isnominated for three Olivier Awards and winningtwo, including the Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 1980. A U.S. national tour is launched.


1989:The first Broadway revival opens at Circle in the Square Theatre. This production receivesfour Tony Award nominations.


1993:The show receives its first London revival at the Royal National Theatre. This production receivessix Olivier Award nominations and winsfour Olivier Awards including Best Musical Revival


.2004:John Doyle directsa revival of the musical on theWest End. The production isnotablebecause there isno orchestra and the cast playsall of the instruments. It isnominated for two Olivier Awards.


2005:Doyle’s West End production transfers to Broadway, starring Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris. It isnominated for six Tony Awards, winning two.


2007:A feature film adaptation of the musical isreleased, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp (who received a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for his performance) as Sweeney and Helena Bonham Carter and Mrs. Lovett.


2012:Another West End revival is produced starring Imelda Staunton, garnering six Olivier Awards and winning three.


2015-18:Cameron Mackintosh produces the West End transfer of a site-specific production that ran at an actual pie shop in London. In 2017, this production transfers off-Broadway to the Barrow Street Theatre and is extended until February 2018.