Guide to 'Sweeney Todd' on Broadway, starring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford
Take a trip to Fleet Street (at your own risk) this spring. Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's musical thriller Sweeney Todd is back with an all-star cast serving up murder and meat pies. Grammy and Tony Award nominee Josh Groban stars as the title barber, with Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford as Mrs. Lovett, Todd's partner in crime.
The 2023 production at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre marks Sweeney Todd's third Broadway revival, and if you missed its previous iterations, now's the time to attend the tale. We've served up all the information you need about this bloody Broadway hit, including showtimes and venue details, fun facts, and all the celebrities taking on the show's iconic roles.
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What is Sweeney Todd about?
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a musical thriller set in 19th-century London. The story follows the vengeful barber Sweeney Todd as he seeks revenge on the corrupt Judge Turpin, who imprisoned him and ruined his life. Soon, though, he turns his anger not just toward Turpin, but to anyone who crosses his path. With the help of his accomplice Mrs. Lovett, who operates a pie shop below his barber shop, Todd begins killing his customers and using their bodies as ingredients in her meat pies.
Where is Sweeney Todd playing?
Sweeney Todd is on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, located at 205 West 46th St. between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The theatre was initially called the Globe, after Shakespeare's theatre in England, and opened in 1910. In 1958, the venue was renovated and renamed for Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, a couple who co-starred in many Broadway productions.
How long is Sweeney Todd?
The show has a runtime of approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes, including an intermission. This is a typical length for Broadway musicals, which tend to run between two and three hours.
What days is Sweeney Todd playing?
Through March, Sweeney Todd plays Tuesdays through Sundays, with no performances on Mondays. Beginning in April, the show plays Wednesday through Sunday, with no performances on Mondays and Tuesdays. There are two performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Who wrote Sweeney Todd?
Sweeney Todd features music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim is one of the most celebrated composer/lyricists in Broadway history, whose most famous shows include Gypsy, Sunday in the Park With George, and Follies. In addition to Sweeney Todd, multiple of his musicals have received recent acclaimed New York revivals, including Company, Into the Woods, Assassins, and Merrily We Roll Along.
The book for Sweeney Todd is by Hugh Wheeler. He collaborated with Sondheim on one other musical: 1973's A Little Night Music. He also adapted his script for A Little Night Music into the film adaptation's screenplay.
When did Sweeney Todd premiere?
Sweeney Todd premiered on Broadway in 1979, with direction by Harold Prince and a cast led by Len Cariou as Sweeney Todd and Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett. The story's origins, however, go back a whole century more. Discover the history of Sweeney Todd below.
- 1846-47: The title character, of a barber who uses his profession for murderous ends, first appears in a Victorian serial.
- 1973: Christopher Bond writes a play about the character, also called Sweeney Todd. It wasn't the first adaptation of Todd's story — the first play adaptation was written while the original serial was still being published — but it was the first to give Todd a full backstory.
- 1973: Stephen Sondheim sees Bond's play in London and decides to adapt it into a musical. He ended up replacing most of the dialogue with music; about 80% is sung through.
- 1979: The Sweeney Todd musical premieres at the Uris Theater (now the Gershwin) and runs for over a year. It also won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
- 1980: Sweeney Todd premieres in London. It only ran for four months and received mixed reviews, but the show won the Best New Musical Olivier Award and has been revived three times in London.
- 2023: Sweeney Todd gets its latest Broadway revival, starring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford.
Sweeney Todd characters
Sweeney Todd has a large principal cast, featuring both aids to and targets of his revenge plot, alongside some other mysterious characters. Here are the main characters of Sweeney Todd.
- Sweeney Todd: A vengeful barber who spent 15 years in prison and now seeks revenge on Judge Turpin, who handed down his unjust sentence.
- Mrs. Lovett: The owner of a failing pie shop who becomes Sweeney Todd's accomplice in revenge.
- Judge Turpin: The corrupt judge who ruined Todd's life after becoming obsessed with his wife and daughter.
- Beadle Bamford: Judge Turpin's right-hand man, whom Sweeney also targets alongside Turpin.
- Johanna Barker: Sweeney Todd's daughter, who became Judge Turpin's ward after he was sent away. She is also the object of Anthony's affections.
- Anthony Hope: A sailor who rescued Sweeney Todd at sea and brings him back to London. He falls for Johanna, not realizing she is Todd's daughter.
- Tobias Ragg: A young apprentice to another barber and then to Mrs. Lovett, who mistrusts Todd.
- Beggar Woman: A mysterious lady who holds secrets about Sweeney Todd's past.
Sweeney Todd songs
Sweeney Todd features some of Stephen Sondheim's most memorable songs, including "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" (which has a whopping "Johanna," and "A Little Priest." Here are all the songs in the musical.
- "Prelude: The Ballad of Sweeney Todd"
- "No Place Like London"
- "The Barber and His Wife"
- "The Worst Pies in London"
- "Poor Thing"
- "My Friends"
- "The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd (Reprise 1)"
- "Green Finch and Linnet Bird"
- "Ah, Miss"
- "Pirelli's Miracle Elixir"
- "The Contest (Part 1): Shaving Scene"
- "The Contest (Part 2): Tooth-Pulling Scene"
- "The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd (Reprise 2)"
- "Pirelli's Death"
- "The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd (Reprise 3)"
- "Johanna (Mea Culpa)"
- "Kiss Me"
- "Ladies In Their Sensitivities"/"Kiss Me (Quartet)"
- "Pretty Women"
- "A Little Priest"
- "God, That's Good!"
- "Johanna (Quartet)"
- "I Am A Lass"
- "By The Sea"
- "Wigmaker Sequence"/"The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd (Reprise 4)"/"The Letter"
- "Not While I'm Around"
- "Parlour Songs (Part 1): Sweet Polly Plunkett"
- "Parlour Songs (Part 2): The 12 Bells In Tower of Bray"
- "Parlour Songs (Part 3): Sweet Polly Plunkett (Reprise)"
- "The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd (Reprise 5)"/"Fogg's Asylum"/"City On Fire"/"Searching"/"Ah, Miss (Reprise)"/"Beggar Woman's Lullaby" § / "The Judge's Return"/"The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd (Reprise 6)"/"Final Scene"
- "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd (Reprise 7)"
What awards has Sweeney Todd won?
Sweeney Todd's multiple revivals have won numerous awards over the years, including a combined 11 Tony Awards and, across the pond, nine Olivier Awards. Here is a list of the major awards Sweeney Todd has won.
- 1979 Broadway production: Sweeney Todd's premiere production won all but one of the 10 Tony Awards it was nominated for. They included Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction, and Best Actor and Actress awards for Cariou and Lansbury. The show won these same awards and more at the Drama Desks that year, also earning nine total trophies.
- 2005 Broadway revival: John Doyle received Best Direction awards at the Tonys and Drama Desks, and the Drama Desks additionally awarded Sweeney Todd Outstanding Revival of a Musical. Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris also received nominations at both ceremonies for their respective performances as Lovett and Todd.
- London productions: Of its four London productions, three have won Best Musical or Best Musical Revival at the Olivier Awards. Alun Armstrong and Julia McKenzie both won trophies for acting as Todd and Lovett, respectively, in 1994, and Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton did the same in 2013.
- Film adaptation: The 2007 Sweeney Todd film won the Oscar for Best Art Direction.
Major productions of Sweeney Todd
There have been many productions of Sweeney Todd over the years, both on Broadway and internationally. Learn more about the most notable productions of Sweeney Todd.
- 1979 Broadway premiere: Sweeney Todd's first major production was right on Broadway in 1979. The roles of Todd and Lovett instantly became synonymous with Cariou and Lansbury, and both won Tony Awards for their performances. Harold Prince directed.
- 1980 U.S. national tour: The first Sweeney Todd national tour starred George Hearn (who replaced Len Cariou as Todd on Broadway) and Lansbury, and ran for just under a year. One performance was filmed and broadcast on television in 1982, and it won three Emmy Awards out of five nominations.
- 1980 London premiere: A year after achieving Broadway success, Sweeney Todd made its debut in London's West End with Denis Quilley and Sheila Hancock.
- 1989 Broadway revival: Sweeney Todd's first Broadway revival took place in 1989, with Bob Gunton and Beth Fowler in the lead roles.
- 1993 London revival: The first London revival of the musical was in 1993, featuring Alun Armstrong and Julia McKenzie.
- 2004 London revival: John Doyle directed a revival of Sweeney Todd in London in 2004, marking the first time a Sondheim show had appeared in the West End in nearly 10 years. The following year, he won a Tony Award for directing the musical on Broadway.
- 2005 Broadway revival: The Doyle-directed 2005 revival starred Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone, both of whom received Tony Award nominations. As in Doyle's London production, the actors played their own instruments on stage.
- 2012 London revival: Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton took on the roles of Todd and Lovett in the most recent London revival, winning Olivier Awards for their performances.
- 2015/2017 revivals: In 2015, an immersive revival went up in Tooting, London, which took place inside an actual pie shop, Harrington's, and had meat pies served to the audience. In 2017, this production transferred to New York, and the Barrow Street Theatre was converted to resemble Harrington's.
- 2023 Broadway revival: The latest Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd stars Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford. It calls back to the Broadway premiere by using the full orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, who frequently collaborated with Sondheim on his musicals.
Celebrities who have starred in Sweeney Todd
- Josh Groban: Groban stars as Sweeney Todd in the 2023 revival. This is his second Broadway appearance after his Tony-nominated star turn in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.
- Annaleigh Ashford: Ashford plays Mrs. Lovett opposite Groban on Broadway. She is a Tony Award winner for You Can't Take It With You and was also nominated for Kinky Boots.
- Gaten Matarazzo: Matarazzo returns to Broadway as Tobias Ragg in the 2023 revival. Though he's best known for his TV role in Stranger Things, he actually got his start on stage in productions including Les Misérables.
- Michael Cerveris: Cerveris played Todd in Sweeney Todd's last Broadway revival in 2005. He is a two-time Tony Award winner for Fun Home and another Sondheim musical, Assassins.
- Patti LuPone: Three-time Tony Award winner LuPone played Mrs. Lovett opposite Cerveris's Todd. Her three awards are for Company, Gypsy, and Evita, and she's starred in more than 25 Broadway shows.
- Angela Lansbury: Dame Angela Lansbury originated the role of Mrs. Lovett on stage, earning a Tony for her iconic portrayal. Sondheim wrote the song "A Little Priest" specifically for her, in order to beef up the role to Lansbury-worthy size.
- Len Cariou: Cariou originated the role of Sweeney Todd on Broadway, also winning a Tony. Sondheim hand-picked Cariou for the role, and it remains his best-known stage credit.
- Victor Garber: Stage and screen star Garber played the supporting role of Anthony Hope in the original 1979 production.
- Imelda Staunton: Multi-award-winning stage and screen actress Staunton played Lovett in the 2012 London revival of Sweeney Todd, earning her third of four Olivier Awards for her performance.
- Michael Ball: Ball played Todd opposite Staunton in London in 2012, earning an Olivier Award. He's best known for his many performances in London's West End, including in shows like Les Misérables and Hairspray.
- Johnny Depp: Depp played Sweeney Todd in the musical's 2007 film adaptation. He took voice lessons specifically for the part, and he went on to earn an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win.
- Helena Bonham Carter: Carter played Mrs. Lovett in the 2007 film. Sweeney Todd and 2012's Les Misérables are her two most notable movie musical credits.
- Alan Rickman: Rickman played Judge Turpin in the 2007 film. Around the same time, he was also co-starring with Carter on screen in the Harry Potter films.
Onscreen adaptations of Sweeney Todd
Sweeney Todd has received one film adaptation, directed by Tim Burton in 2007. The film starred Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd and Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett. The supporting cast was equally starry, including Alan Rickman, Jamie Campbell Bower, Sacha Baron Cohen, Timothy Spall, and more.
Theatre and film director Sam Mendes had been working on a film adaptation of Sweeney Todd for years and was originally slated to helm the 2007 film. However, he left for another project, and Burton — who had also wanted to do a Sweeney Todd film since the 1980s — stepped in.
Fun facts about Sweeney Todd
To keep you razor-sharp about all things Sweeney Todd, here are some fun facts about the musical.
- The character of Sweeney Todd first appeared in The String of Pearls, a 19th-century penny dreadful story. His story was then adapted into films in 1928 and 1936, and in 1973, Christopher Bond wrote a Sweeney Todd play. That play is the basis of Sondheim and Wheeler's musical!
- The 2023 revival is the first Sweeney Todd Broadway production to use a full 26-piece orchestra, as the show was originally written for, since the 1979 premiere. The font on the 2023 revival's poster art is also the same as the original.
- The original poster art for Sweeney Todd, which features caricatures of the two main characters holding bloody weapons, was drawn in the style of a 19th-century advertising image etched into wood.
- Because Sweeney Todd is mostly sung through and calls for large-scale orchestrations similar to those of opera, multiple opera companies worldwide have put on Sweeney Todd. Original Broadway director Hal Prince helmed its first opera production in Houston.
- Sondheim incorporates an old Latin chant called "Dies irae" into "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" and its multiple reprises. The original piece of music dates back to the 1200s!
How to get Sweeney Todd tickets
Todd and Lovett may sing about "the worst pies in London," but Sweeney Todd has proven time and time again that it's one of the best musicals in New York. Don't miss your chance to see Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford thrill as these iconic characters.
Get Sweeney Todd tickets now.
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