Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd:The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sung in English with projected English text
April 24, 2015 - 7:30 PM | April 26, 2015 - 2:00 PM | April 29, 2015 - 7:30 PM
May 2, 2015 - 7:30 PM | May 8, 2015 - 7:30 PM | May 9, 2015 - 7:30 PM
Countless serial novels gripped Londoners during the Victorian era - the more gruesome, the better. One of them, The String of Pearls, spawned the character of Sweeney Todd.
His happiness destroyed by a corrupt judge, Sweeney Todd - the Demon Barber of Fleet Street - is obsessed with revenge. With his partner in crime, amoral pie shop owner Mrs. Lovett, he quenches his thirst for justice with a murderous rampage that leaves few of the characters breathing. Stephen Sondheim's dark, magnificent score turns this sordid and bloody tale into riveting entertainment.
Sweeney Todd is a masterpiece of the American musical theater - it will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Sweeney Todd - Nathan Gunn
Mrs. Lovett - Susan Bullock
Tobias Ragg - Nicholas Phan
Judge Turpin - Jake Gardner
Beggar Woman - Cynthia Clayton
Conductor - James Lowe
Director - Lee Blakeley
Set & Costume Designer - Tanya McCallin
Lighting Designer - Rick Fisher
Sound Designer - Andrew Harper
Choreographer - Lorena Randi
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Chorus Master - Richard Bado
"Nathan Gunn commands an operatic baritone whose mighty heft and richness confer an outsize authority on everything he touches." - New York Times
"Susan Bullock, as always profoundly musical and bringing tears to one's eyes with the tenderness of phrasing that seems second nature to her. Her virtue is total absorption in the role and her diction is immaculate." - Opera Magazine (London)
Production originally created by Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris
Co-owned by Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Théâtre du Châtelet
The young sailor Anthony Hope and Sweeney Todd have just returned to London from Australia. Anthony saved Todd from drowning while at sea; Todd is thanking him when they are approached by a Beggar Woman. Todd orders her away, and he and Anthony part company.
On Fleet Street, Todd wanders into Mrs. Lovett's Pie Shop hoping to find out what has happened to his wife, Lucy, and daughter, Johanna, while he has been gone. Mrs. Lovett recognizes him as Benjamin Barker, a barber who had lived with his wife and daughter above the pie shop before he was sent away to prison on a trumped-up charge by Judge Turpin, an evil man who desired Lucy. With Barker out of the way, the Judge raped Lucy and abandoned her. Mrs. Lovett tells Todd that Lucy poisoned herself and that Judge Turpin adopted Johanna. Todd swears to take revenge on the Judge and his henchman, Beadle Bamford. Mrs. Lovett brings Todd his razors, which she has kept, hoping for his return. He decides to go back in business above the pie shop.
Anthony is passing by Judge Turpin's mansion when he catches sight of Johanna, whom the Judge keeps virtually imprisoned. The Beggar Woman reappears and warns Anthony not to trespass on Judge Turpin's property. Anthony and Johanna are so taken with each other that they don't notice the approach of Judge Turpin and the Beadle. The Judge orders Johanna to go inside.
In the marketplace, Signor Adolfo Pirelli hawks his “miracle elixir” with the help of Tobias, his simple-minded assistant. Todd and Mrs. Lovett are among the crowd. Todd incites the crowd against Pirelli and challenges him to a shaving contest with the Beadle serving as judge. Todd wins easily, and the Beadle is so impressed by Todd's skill that he promises to come in for a shave.
Judge Turpin is in his quarters spying on Johanna in an adjoining room. Mad with desire, he finally visits Johanna, telling her he plans to marry her to keep her safe from immoral young men.
Back at the shop, Anthony finds Todd and excitedly tells him about lovely young Johanna, with whom he has fallen in love. He tells Todd he is planning to free her from her prison. Without revealing he is Johanna's father, Todd tells Anthony he may bring her to the shop for safekeeping.
Stung by his public humiliation, Pirelli arrives at the shop with Tobias, who chats with Mrs. Lovett while Pirelli reveals himself to Todd as his former apprentice. Pirelli threatens to reveal Todd's true identity, and Todd panics and kills him.
On his way home from court, the Judge tells the Beadle he intends to marry Johanna; at that very moment, Anthony and Johanna are making plans to elope. The Beadle hints that the Judge should spruce himself up and suggests a visit to Sweeney Todd for a shave.
In Todd's barber chair, the Judge fantasizes about his future with Johanna. Just as Todd is about to kill him, Anthony rushes in to tell about his impending elopement. The Judge recognizes Anthony and leaves in a fury, threatening to lock Johanna up. Beside himself with rage, Sweeney throws Anthony out and decides to take his revenge on all men, not just those who have wronged him. Mrs. Lovett is suddenly inspired—they can recycle Todd's victims into meat pies.
Mrs. Lovett's pies are so improved that the shop is mobbed with customers; Tobias has been enlisted to help serve customers and to keep the Beggar Woman away. Todd rigs his new barber chair so that he can send his victims down a chute directly to the bake house and into a meat grinder. In the lunatic asylum where the Judge has placed her, Johanna dreams of the moment when Anthony will free her.
Searching the streets for Johanna, Anthony hears her voice coming from Fogg's Asylum. He brings Todd news of her whereabouts, and Todd and Anthony form a plan: Anthony will go to the asylum posing as a wigmaker wishing to purchase hair. After rescuing Johanna, Anthony will bring her to the barbershop. To lure the Judge back to his premises, Todd writes an urgent letter telling him he can find Johanna and Anthony at the barbershop that evening.
Tobias has grown fond of Mrs. Lovett and promises to protect her. When Mrs. Lovett pulls out Pirelli's purse, he recognizes it. She says Todd gave it to her, which feeds Tobias's growing suspicions about Sweeney. She distracts Tobias by letting him grind the meat for pies. The Beadle comes by to investigate complaints about the odors coming from her chimney, but Mrs. Lovett makes him wait until Todd returns, at which time the barber offers him a free shave before he inspects the ovens. When the Beadle's body comes down the chute, Tobias realizes what has been going on. Mrs. Lovett urges Todd to get rid of the boy.
Anthony succeeds in freeing Johanna and they arrive at the shop, Johanna disguised as a sailor. While Anthony goes to hire a coach for their escape, she remains in the shop, hiding to avoid the Beggar Woman, who has come in to look for the Beadle. When Todd returns and discovers the Beggar Woman, he kills her and releases her down the chute. The Judge enters, and Sweeney suggests a shave before reuniting with Johanna. Todd then reveals his true identify and slits the Judge's throat.
Johanna emerges from the trunk. Mistaking her for a sailor, Todd tries to attack her, but she escapes. He runs to the bake house and finds Mrs. Lovett dragging the Beggar Woman to the oven. When Todd sees the woman in the light, he realizes she is his wife, Lucy, and that Mrs. Lovett has deceived him. He shoves Mrs. Lovett into the oven and cradles Lucy.
Tobias appears, his hair now completely white from shock. He kills Sweeney just as Anthony, Johanna, and the police enter.