synopsis

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd / His skin was pale and his eye was odd / He shaved the faces of gentlemen / Who never thereafter were heard of again / Hetrod a path that few have trod / Did Sweeney Todd


Spoiler alert! Plot and/or ending details follow!


Sweeney Todd and Anthony Hope, a young sailor, disembark at the London docks, happy to be back in their bustling hometown. Though much older, Todd is grateful to Anthony for rescuing him at sea after his escape from prison. Immediately Todd heads for Fleet Street and visits with Mrs. Lovett, the owner of a failing pie shop. Mrs. Lovett, who admits to selling the “worst pies in London,” recognizes Todd as Benjamin Barker, the barber-surgeon who used to live upstairs from her shop with his beautiful wife Lucy and infant daughter Johanna. Fifteen years before, we learn, Todd was arrested falsely and shipped to a penal colony by the lecherous Judge Turpin, who desired Lucy and wanted Todd out of the way. 


Mrs. Lovett tells Todd that after he was sent off, Turpin raped Lucy when she refused his advances. In shame, Lucy swallowed poison, and Johanna became Turpin’s ward. Upon hearing his family’s fate, Todd fills with rage and vows revenge against Turpin and his police accomplice, Beadle Bamford. With the razors that Mrs. Lovett, who has long loved Todd, kept during his absence, Todd opens a barbershop above Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop, hoping to attract Turpin and Bamford to his business. His plans go quickly awry when a rival barber named Pirelli figures out Todd’s true identity and tries to blackmail him. Todd kills Pirelli with his razors, and Mrs. Lovett suggests they dispose of his body by grinding it up and baking it into her pies. 


After Mrs. Lovett’s “corpse” pies become the culinary rage of Fleet Street, Todd starts killing his customers to keep up with the demand. Anthony, meanwhile, has met and fallen in love with the teenaged Johanna, who is guarded carefully by Turpin. Johanna agrees to elope with Anthony, but the judge, who plans to marry Johanna himself, sends her to an insane asylum to keep the young couple apart. Todd then conspires with Anthony to free Johanna and use her to lure Turpin to his barbershop. 


Matters come to a head when Tobias, Pirelli’s young assistant who now works for Mrs. Lovett, becomes suspicious and complaints about bad odors spewing from the building bring Bamford to Todd’s door. Also complicating affairs is a strange but familiar Beggar Woman who has been lurking around Todd. While Mrs. Lovett maneuvers to keep her criminal ways a secret, Todd races to unite Anthony with Johanna and exact his revenge on the judge


.--From Center Theater Group in Los Angeles