Sweeney Todd

Another year, another Sweet Tea Shakespeare collaboration! It’s always a joy to work with this crew. This January, the project was the story of Sweeney Todd - a macabre Victorian street tale that was adapted into a musical by Stephen Sondheim. True to their mission of creating accessible work within community, STS staged this at the Fayetteville Pie Company - a location that truly adds to the immersive experience.

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Dena, costume designer and mistress of the show’s extensive wardrobe.

Dena, costume designer and mistress of the show’s extensive wardrobe.

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Tohry, the world’s greatest ringmaster. As someone who gets nervous talking to groups of four or more, I find those skills amazing.

Tohry, the world’s greatest ringmaster. As someone who gets nervous talking to groups of four or more, I find those skills amazing.

The play begins with a call to attend the tale of Sweeney Todd, a cautionary tale of a wronged man who spent years in exile dreaming of vengeance. The story begins when he arrives back in London.

The play begins with a call to attend the tale of Sweeney Todd, a cautionary tale of a wronged man who spent years in exile dreaming of vengeance. The story begins when he arrives back in London.

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A half-crazed beggar woman meets Sweeney and his young friend Anthony. She alternates between bawdy street tunes and pitiful pleas.

A half-crazed beggar woman meets Sweeney and his young friend Anthony. She alternates between bawdy street tunes and pitiful pleas.

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Todd steps into Mrs. Lovett’s bake shop and attempts to eat the inedible while Mrs. Lovett regails him with the sad story of the barber and his wife, the couple who used to rent the room above the bakery from her. It ends with the husband being shipped off to Australia on a trumped-up charge, and the wife being overtaken by the evil judge. Overwhelmed by grief and hurt, the wife swallowed poison, leaving behind the Todd’s newborn baby.

Todd steps into Mrs. Lovett’s bake shop and attempts to eat the inedible while Mrs. Lovett regails him with the sad story of the barber and his wife, the couple who used to rent the room above the bakery from her. It ends with the husband being shipped off to Australia on a trumped-up charge, and the wife being overtaken by the evil judge. Overwhelmed by grief and hurt, the wife swallowed poison, leaving behind the Todd’s newborn baby.

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Todd is visibly distressed by the end of the story, and Mrs. Lovett deduces that he is Benjamin Barker, one half of the couple who lived above her bakery. She returns his razors to him, and he plans to go back into business upstairs.

Todd is visibly distressed by the end of the story, and Mrs. Lovett deduces that he is Benjamin Barker, one half of the couple who lived above her bakery. She returns his razors to him, and he plans to go back into business upstairs.

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Across town, Todd’s daughter Joanna is the ward of the horrible Judge Turpin. She is kept in the house, visited only by the bird sellers, until she is spotted by Anthony.

Across town, Todd’s daughter Joanna is the ward of the horrible Judge Turpin. She is kept in the house, visited only by the bird sellers, until she is spotted by Anthony.

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When you make the director laugh, you’re doing something right.

When you make the director laugh, you’re doing something right.

The judge, creeping.

The judge, creeping.

Down the street from the bakery, a competing barber sends his boy Toby to attract customers with a too-good-to-be-true elixir. Todd and Lovett cast doubt on the elixir and challenge the flamboyant Perelli to a shave-off in the street. Judge Turpin’s right hand man (Beadle Bamford) oversees the contest.

Down the street from the bakery, a competing barber sends his boy Toby to attract customers with a too-good-to-be-true elixir. Todd and Lovett cast doubt on the elixir and challenge the flamboyant Perelli to a shave-off in the street. Judge Turpin’s right hand man (Beadle Bamford) oversees the contest.

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They pulled audience members for the contest, which Todd wins without breaking a sweat. Pirelli arranges to pay him later.

They pulled audience members for the contest, which Todd wins without breaking a sweat. Pirelli arranges to pay him later.

Pirelli recognized Todd as the former Benjamin Barker, and threatens blackmail. Panicked, Todd murders him.

Pirelli recognized Todd as the former Benjamin Barker, and threatens blackmail. Panicked, Todd murders him.

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Judge Turpin looks for a solution to his turmoil over his ward Joanna, and decides the best solution is to marry her. She is appalled. (naturally.) Anthony promises to elope with her the following day.

Judge Turpin looks for a solution to his turmoil over his ward Joanna, and decides the best solution is to marry her. She is appalled. (naturally.) Anthony promises to elope with her the following day.

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Having resolved his qualm of conscience, Judge Turpin goes back to his day job of condemning petty thieves.

Having resolved his qualm of conscience, Judge Turpin goes back to his day job of condemning petty thieves.

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The beadle advises the judge to get a shave before approaching Joanna again, and sends him to see Todd.

The beadle advises the judge to get a shave before approaching Joanna again, and sends him to see Todd.

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Anthony bursts in, spilling all the details of the planned elopement. The judge nearly strangles him, tells Todd he will never return, and plans to lock Joanna in a madhouse, where no one can get to her. Since Todd now thinks that he will never have a chance to visit vengeance on the judge, he tells Mrs. Lovett he will take it out on humanity. Mrs. Lovett, because she is her own brand of psychotic, finds this an attractive, permissible quality.

Anthony bursts in, spilling all the details of the planned elopement. The judge nearly strangles him, tells Todd he will never return, and plans to lock Joanna in a madhouse, where no one can get to her. Since Todd now thinks that he will never have a chance to visit vengeance on the judge, he tells Mrs. Lovett he will take it out on humanity. Mrs. Lovett, because she is her own brand of psychotic, finds this an attractive, permissible quality.

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In Mrs. Lovett’s eyes, revenge on humankind is all very well, but she has a business to run. One that needs more meat for the pies. The following song is basically a series of masterful puns about cannibalism, featuring audience members (It makes more sense in the room).

In Mrs. Lovett’s eyes, revenge on humankind is all very well, but she has a business to run. One that needs more meat for the pies. The following song is basically a series of masterful puns about cannibalism, featuring audience members (It makes more sense in the room).

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Props all set for the second act.

Props all set for the second act.

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With more than enough pies to go around, Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop is brimming with ecstatic customers. Toby, who Mrs. Lovett took in after Pirelli ‘disappeared’, helps her manage the business. Upstairs, Mr. Todd makes some adjustments - there is a shoot leading from his chair down to the cellar, where his victims can be processed.

With more than enough pies to go around, Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop is brimming with ecstatic customers. Toby, who Mrs. Lovett took in after Pirelli ‘disappeared’, helps her manage the business. Upstairs, Mr. Todd makes some adjustments - there is a shoot leading from his chair down to the cellar, where his victims can be processed.

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Mrs. Lovett sends Toby to chase off the beggar woman, and Todd sets the plan in action as Anthony looks all around town for Joanna. Meanwhile, the beggar woman sees the smoke and tries to warn passers-by that the occupants of the pie shop are up to no good.

Mrs. Lovett sends Toby to chase off the beggar woman, and Todd sets the plan in action as Anthony looks all around town for Joanna. Meanwhile, the beggar woman sees the smoke and tries to warn passers-by that the occupants of the pie shop are up to no good.

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Todd is frustrated by a lack of the judge appearing, and Mrs. Lovett explains her vision for the future.

Todd is frustrated by a lack of the judge appearing, and Mrs. Lovett explains her vision for the future.

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Toby has begun to suspect that something is amiss; Mrs. Lovett quiets his fears, and says she will teach him how to make the pies. After locking him in the bakehouse, Beadle Bamford drops in. He wants to inspect the bakehouse. Mrs. Lovett stalls, waiting for Todd to return and manage the beadle.

Toby has begun to suspect that something is amiss; Mrs. Lovett quiets his fears, and says she will teach him how to make the pies. After locking him in the bakehouse, Beadle Bamford drops in. He wants to inspect the bakehouse. Mrs. Lovett stalls, waiting for Todd to return and manage the beadle.

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Antony has tracked Joanna to a madhouse - they escape it together, letting out all the occupants in the process, and flee to the barber shop.

Antony has tracked Joanna to a madhouse - they escape it together, letting out all the occupants in the process, and flee to the barber shop.

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Antony leaves to secure passage to Paris. The old beggar woman wanders into the shop looking for the beadle, and Joanna hides in the wardrobe.

Antony leaves to secure passage to Paris. The old beggar woman wanders into the shop looking for the beadle, and Joanna hides in the wardrobe.

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Todd, who has lured the judge to the shop, is afraid that the old woman will give him away before he can take his revenge. She asks if she knows him. He slits her throat.

Todd, who has lured the judge to the shop, is afraid that the old woman will give him away before he can take his revenge. She asks if she knows him. He slits her throat.

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Mrs. Lovett cries out from the basement, distracting Todd and allowing Joanna to escape. Todd joins her in the bakehouse, and has a moment of terrible recognition.

Mrs. Lovett cries out from the basement, distracting Todd and allowing Joanna to escape. Todd joins her in the bakehouse, and has a moment of terrible recognition.

The beggar woman, slain by his own hand, had been his wife Lucy. Mrs. Lovett had hidden it from him the entire time.

The beggar woman, slain by his own hand, had been his wife Lucy. Mrs. Lovett had hidden it from him the entire time.

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After a deceptive waltz, Todd pushes Mrs/ Lovett into the oven. Toby, driven mad by fear, emerges from hiding and kills Todd with his own razor, completing the tragedy. Or starting one of his own. Who knows.  All of the characters return for a last call to remember the tale.

After a deceptive waltz, Todd pushes Mrs/ Lovett into the oven. Toby, driven mad by fear, emerges from hiding and kills Todd with his own razor, completing the tragedy. Or starting one of his own. Who knows.

All of the characters return for a last call to remember the tale.

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That’s all, folks! As ever, a huge thank you to the Sweet Tea family for having me!