Friday, November 13, 2009

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

The story of Sweeney Todd has always been a favorite tale of mine. I remember the first time my mother told me about it. We were driving around one day and a car accident had taken place. As we drove past it, we could see no one was really hurt, but one of the cars happened to be on the lawn of a funeral home. My mom immediately said "a customer!" the way Mrs. Lovett does in the musical Sweeney Todd. My brother and I couldn't believe she had said it and we started laughing. She agreed it probably wasn't the nicest thing to say, but it just popped into her head. She explained to us that it was from a play called Sweeney Todd, one that my aunt had been in a long time ago (as Mrs. Lovett). She told us that it was about a Barber who killed his customers with his razor and sent them down a chute where a pie-maker in the shop below would use their meat for her pies. I was completely freaked out by the story, but figured it must be a very entertaining play...

Here is the original 1936 film about Sweeney (before they made it into a musical)

Later when I started getting into theatre, I used to like listening to all sorts of musicals, one after another, but when I came upon the music and details to the story of Sweeney Todd for the first time, I realized there wasn't much use in listening to any other musicals. Sweeney was it for me: no more campy musicals, just this great thriller with the amazing music of Stephen Sondheim.

To watch the original musical with George Hearn and Angela Lansbury, click here for part one.

Warning: Many more Sweeney Todd posts to come...