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Sweeney Todd School Edition

Genre Drama; Thriller/Mystery
Collection School Edition
Catalogue
 
Composer Stephen Sondheim
Lyricist Stephen Sondheim
Book By Hugh Wheeler
 
Other Credits
Format Book Musical; Operetta
Type Full Length
Status Restricted (?Some Restrictions Apply: This work is available for performance by secondary school students only, subject to our standard Terms of Use.)
Version School Edition

Short Synopsis

This special School Edition has been masterfully adapted, working directly with Mr. Sondheim, to retain the dark wit and grand scope of the original work, with a few lyric and key changes to facilitate high school productions. 



The rare instance of a musical thriller, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s chilling, suspenseful, heart-pounding masterpiece of murderous barber-ism and culinary crime tells the infamous tale of the unjustly exiled barber who returns to 19th century London seeking revenge against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. His thirst for blood soon expands to include his unfortunate customers, and the resourceful proprietress of the pie shop downstairs soon has the people of London lining up in droves with her mysterious new meat pie recipe! 



Sophisticated, macabre, visceral and uncompromising, SWEENEY TODD SCHOOL EDITION nevertheless has a great sense of fun, mixing intense drama with howlingly funny moments of dark humour: audiences find themselves laughing hysterically one moment and gasping in surprise the next. 



At the show’s core is a challenging score of epic proportion with two tasty tour de force roles in Sweeney and his comic female accomplice Mrs. Lovett. Although it has been extremely popular with opera companies and in concert presentation, SWEENEY TODD SCHOOL EDITION is equally effective as an intimate chamber musical.

Rehearsal Materials

Rehearsal Materials on Hire

SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) REHEARSAL SET

  • 35 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) LIBRETTO/VOCAL BOOKS
  • 2 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) PIANO-CONDUCTOR SCORE: ACT I
  • 2 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) PIANO-CONDUCTOR SCORE: ACT II
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) ENHANCED STUDY GUIDE WITH REFERENCE RECORDING CD
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) DIRECTOR'S SCRIPT

Orchestral Materials

All available orchestrations for this show are displayed below. On application, you will be required to select the orchestration that you wish to use for your performance.

Orchestral Materials on Hire

SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) ORCHESTRAL SET

  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) BASS
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) CELLO
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) HARP
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) HORN
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) ORGAN / CELESTE
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) PERCUSSION
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) REED I
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) REED II
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) REED III
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) REED IV
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) REED V
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) TROMBONE I
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) TROMBONE II
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) TROMBONE III
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) TRUMPET
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) VIOLA
  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) VIOLIN

SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) ALTERNATE ORCHESTRAL SET

  • 1 × SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) ACCOMPANIMENT CD

PERFORM WITH PIANO ONLY

Theatrical Resources

Theatrical Resources on Sale

Optional Extras

SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) LOGO PACK (A$85.00)

Theatrical Resources on Hire

Optional Extras

SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) REHEARSCORE PLUS (A$400.00)

SWEENEY TODD (SCHOOL EDITION) SOUND EFFECTS CD (Factory Whistle only) (A$50.00)

TRANSPOSITION ON DEMAND - COMBINED CONDUCTOR SCORE AND FULL ORCHESTRATION (PRICE PER TRANSPOSED SONG) (A$220.00)

TRANSPOSITION ON DEMAND - FULL ORCHESTRATION (PRICE PER TRANSPOSED SONG) (A$175.00)

TRANSPOSITION ON DEMAND - CONDUCTOR SCORE (PRICE PER TRANSPOSED SONG) (A$80.00)

ORCH EXTRA

Visit our Theatrical Resource page to find out more.

Casting Information

Dance Requirement: Minimal/None

Character Breakdown

ANTHONY HOPE: A young man who returns to London and sets his heart on Johanna, Todd's daughter. C3 - F#4 Tenor.

BEGGAR WOMAN: A deranged and schizophrenic woman with a secret. A3 - F#5 Alto.

ENSEMBLE: At least one of each part (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, and bass) must be a strong singer. They have solo section in the piece.

JOHANNA: Judge Turpin's young, lovely ward and Todd's long-lost daughter. Innocent and aching to free herself from Turpin's grasp. C4 - Bb5 Soprano.

JUDGE TURPIN: A corrupt and lecherous official who hides in the guise of sanctimonious honour. B2 - F4 Baritenor.

MRS. LOVETT: An entrepreneurial shop owner with a diabolical passion for pies... and Todd. F#3 - E5 Alto.

PIRELLI: A flamboyant Italian with a secret past. A charlatan and rival barber. G#2 - F#4 (A4) Tenor.

SWEENEY TODD: A talented barber with a bloodthirsty need for revenge. Ab2 - F4 Baritone or Bass.

THE BEADLE: A pompous public official whose real loyalty is only to the corrupt Turpin. Bb2 - F4 (C5) Tenor.

TOBIAS: A young boy who is apprenticed to Pirelli, but finds a strange, surrogate family in Todd and Mrs. Lovett. B2 - G4 Tenor.

Detailed Synopsis

PROLOGUE

As the audience enters, an organist sits at a gigantic organ and plays funeral music. A drop depicting the social structure of 19th century is hung on the stage. Two men dig a grave at the front of the stage and disappear six feet into the earth, leaving piles of dirt behind. A police warden enters when it is time for the show to begin and urges the diggers to hurry. He is joined by two workmen who pull down the drop curtain for the show, foreshadowing the inevitable fall of the social structure. The deafening sound of a shrill factory whistle is heard. There is a blackout. When the lights come up, we can see the company in place.

A man steps forward and begins to sing The Ballad of Sweeney Todd." One by one the members of the company recount the tale of Sweeney, who owned a barber shop on Fleet Street which serviced socially prominent customers. As they sing, a blinding light illuminates an upstage iron door. Two men come through the door, carrying a body in a bag. They are followed by a woman with a canister marked "Flour." The men dump the body into the grave; the woman dumps black ashes from the canister on top of the body. As the chorus continues to sing of Sweeney Todd, describing him as a highly skilled barber and an inconspicuous individual, Sweeney rises out of the grave and joins the song. The company promises that Todd's tale will now be fully revealed.

ACT ONE

A clock tower chimes in the early morning light. Anthony Hope, a young sailor, and Sweeney Todd enter. They both express their feelings about being back in London ("No Place Like London"). Anthony is genuinely happy to be back in the city, but Todd's response is full of grim irony. Todd is thanking Anthony for saving his life at sea when the two men are accosted by a ragged, crazed Beggar Woman who begs for money and offers them sexual favours. She thinks she recognises Sweeney, but he fends her off. Anthony assures Sweeney the beggar is not to be feared; she is just one of the legion of beggars roaming the streets of London. Todd, overcome by the ghostly shadows of memory, refuses Anthony's offers of financial assistance and help. Instead, he recounts the tale of "A Barber and His Wife" describing a barber and his beautiful wife who was coveted by a richer, more powerful man of the law. The barber was removed from London so the vicious predator could ensnare the wife. Anthony asked how the story ended and Sweeney says it was too many years ago. No one would know. He leaves Anthony, saying he plans to stay in the vicinity of Fleet Street.

Sweeney finds Mrs. Lovett's Pie Shop and stands outside the building gazing at it. He enters and sees Mrs. Lovett chopping suet and flicking flies off the trays of pies with a dirty rag.

She serves him a meat pie, singing "The Worst Pies in London" to describe her culinary accomplishments. She explains she is just a poor woman alone, trying to make her way in a harsh world. He asks why she doesn't rent the empty room over the shop if she is in need of money. She replies no one wants the room because it is haunted; a handsome barber named Benjamin Barker used to live there before he was transported to Australia.

Mrs. Lovett then recounts the fate of Benjamin Barker's pretty young wife ("Poor Thing"). A Judge and his Beadle both lusted after the woman, although she resisted their advances. Consequently, they had her husband arrested on false charges and transported to Botany Bay, leaving the young woman with a year-old daughter, Johanna. After the husband's departure, they invited her to a party at the Judge's mansion, got her drunk and raped her in the midst of a masked ball. When Sweeney Todd shouts in anguish at this news, Mrs. Lovett realises he is Benjamin Barker.

Demanding to learn the fate of his family, Barker hears his wife Lucy took arsenic and that Judge Turpin adopted his daughter, Johanna. Saying he survived his fifteen years in exile by dreaming of returning to his wife and daughter, Todd swears to take revenge on the Judge and the Beadle. When Mrs. Lovett asks how he plans to live without money, Todd says it doesn't matter. She brings him his razors which she had hidden away when the Judge came to take Todd's daughter. Todd is mesmerised by the razors, seeing in them the instrument of his revenge. As he sings of his vision of what he and his razors will accomplish together ("My Friends"), Mrs. Lovett sings of her romantic feelings for him. He holds the biggest razor up to the light and proclaims "my right arm is complete again!"

The scene shifts to Judge Turpin's mansion. Johanna, on an upper level of the house, sings to the caged birds of a passing birdseller ("Green Finch and Linnet Bird"). She wonders how they can sing when they, like herself, are captives. Anthony appears on the street, sees Johanna and instantly they fall in love with each other ("Ah, Miss"). Suddenly, the Beggar Woman appears, startling them both. Johanna disappears into the house. The Beggar Woman tells Anthony he is standing in front of Judge Turpin's house and should beware of trespassing. Anthony buys a bird for Johanna. He calls to her and presents the bird ("Johanna"). They stand absorbed with each other, not noticing the approach of Judge Turpin and the Beadle who take the lovers by surprise. The Judge orders Johanna into the house. She leaves the bird behind. The Beadle cautions Anthony to stay away and strangles the bird as a warning.

In St. Dunstan's Marketplace, a painted caravan announces the presence of Signor Adolfo Pirelli (Haircutter-Barber-Dentist to his royal majesty the King of Naples) and his baldness banishing miracle elixir. Todd intends to steal away Pirelli's customers by showing him up as a fraud.

Tobias, Pirelli's simple-minded assistant, beats a tin drum to attract a crowd ("Pirelli's Miracle Elixir"). Although the crowd responds to Tobias's pitch, Todd and Mrs. Lovett begin a slander campaign against the elixir and people demand their money back. Tobias tries to distract them but to no avail. He points out Pirelli who appears and boasts of his own prowess as a barber. Todd challenges Pirelli to a shaving contest. In a competition judged by the Beadle, Todd wins ("The Contest"). Then in a tooth-pulling contest, during which Pirelli attempts to pull a tooth from Tobias, Todd triumphs a second time. The Beadle is very impressed, and gets the address of Todd's shop, promising to appear soon. When the Beadle thinks he recognises Todd, Mrs. Lovett assures him this is not possible.

After an encounter with the Beggar Woman, Mrs. Lovett climbs the stairs to Todd's quarters where he is waiting eagerly for the Beadle to appear. Mrs. Lovett tells him to be patient ("Wait") as she plans the redecoration of his drab quarters with daisies and other homey touches. When Todd wonders how long it will take to ensnare the judge, she again tells him to relish making the plan.

Anthony appears at Todd's door, having spotted the sign, and tells him of his encounter with Johanna, unaware she is Sweeney's daughter. He asks if he can bring her to Todd's shop for safekeeping after spiriting her out of her father's house that night. Having secured Todd's assistance, he leaves. Mrs. Lovett suggests Sweeney kill Anthony and keep Johanna with him. She promises she will be a splendid mother to Johanna. Pirelli and Tobias appear. Mrs. Lovett takes Tobias downstairs for a meat pie. Pirelli reveals his real identity as a former Irish apprentice to Benjamin Barker. He tries to blackmail Todd by threatening to reveal that Todd is really Barker. They struggle. Todd renders Pirelli unconscious. Todd stuffs him in a chest when Tobias appears. Tobias sits on the chest but doesn't notice Pirelli's hand hanging out of the trunk. Todd persuades the boy to go to the kitchen for more meat pies. Once Tobias has gone, Todd pulls Pirelli out of the chest and slashes his throat. Mrs. Lovett offers the unsuspecting Tobias a glass of gin.

Leaving court, the Judge announces to the Beadle his intention to marry Johanna. At the same time, Anthony is proposing to Johanna ("Kiss Me"). As the Judge continues on his way home, the Beadle delicately suggests Turpin pay more attention to his personal appearance to heighten his appeal to Johanna ("Ladies in Their Sensitivities"). Recalling Sweeney's excellent work, the Beadle suggests to the judge he make a visit to Sweeney's shop. As the Judge plans his personal make-over at Sweeney's hands, Anthony and Johanna sink to the floor in the throes of passion ("Quartet").

At the pie shop, Mrs. Lovett discovers Pirelli's fate. When Todd wants to kill Tobias too, she disagrees. The Judge appears in Todd's shop. Mrs. Lovett goes downstairs to distract Tobias. The Judge confides in Todd about his forthcoming marriage. Todd prepares to slit the judge's throat, but he takes his time, savoring the moment before his anticipated revenge. Together they sing "Pretty Women" with the Judge lusting for Johanna and Sweeney singing ironically of his lost wife. He is about to kill the judge when Anthony rushes in, blurting out the news of his planned elopement. The Judge leaves in a fury, announcing his intention to lock Johanna away, and telling Todd he will not be back.

Enraged at losing the chance to kill the Judge, Sweeney throws Anthony out of the shop, and announces his intention to kill everyone he can to get ready for the inevitable destruction of the Judge ("Epiphany"). Mrs. Lovett reminds him they have to dispose of Pirelli's body. She has an inspiration. They can recycle his victims into meat pies.

They sing victoriously("A Little Priest"); she has found a seemingly inexhaustible supply of fresh meat for her pies and he will get his revenge on the human race.

ACT TWO

Thanks to her new-found prosperity, Mrs. Lovett has expanded her shop to include an outdoor eating garden. She now wears a fancy gown and Tobias is attired in a waiter's apron. Her shop is mobbed with customers who crave the new pies ("God, That's Good!"). The Beggar Woman lurks around. An elaborate new barber chair is moved into Todd's quarters. Todd and Mrs. Lovett set up a complicated system by which Todd sends his victims down a chute directly into the bakehouse where there is a grinding machine. Mrs. Lovett runs out of pies. She puts up a "Sold Out" sign. A barbershop customer appears. She takes the sign down.

Anthony searches the streets for Johanna ("Johanna"). At the same time, Todd dreams of his daughter and systematically kills the customers who sit in his chair. The Beggar Woman tries to warn passersby about the strange odors and smoke coming from Mrs. Lovett's bakehouse. No one responds. In the lunatic asylum where the Judge has placed her, Johanna joins the song, dreaming of the moment when Anthony will free her. When a man enters the shop, with a child (a potential witness), Sweeney is temporarily thwarted in his murderous revenge.

Anthony hears Johanna's voice and discovers she is in the Asylum. He tries to rescue her, but the Beadle stops him and tells the police to bash his head. Anthony escapes.

Mrs. Lovett sits with Todd in the evening and dreams of their future ("By The Sea"). Throughout her fantasy of their married life together at the seashore, Todd is totally unaware of her words. He is lost in his thoughts of the Judge. Anthony appears to report that Turpin has locked Johanna in a madhouse. Todd has the idea to send Anthony into the asylum as a wigmaker, since the asylum owner sells the hair of the inmates to the highest bidder. He gives Anthony a gun and tells him to bring Johanna to the barber shop after the escape. Then Todd writes to Judge Turpin, telling him he can find Johanna and Anthony at the barber shop that evening.

Mrs. Lovett sits with Tobias in the early evening in the eating garden. As she knits him a muffler, they exchange words about their warm feelings for each other. He is devoted to her and promises no one will harm her ("Not While I'm Around"). He suggests something about Sweeney Todd is suspicious. When Mrs. Lovett pulls out Pirelli's purse, he recognises it. She says Todd gave it to her, which only further feeds Tobias's doubts. She invites Tobias into the bakehouse where he is usually forbidden to go. He is delighted. Once there, she allows him to grind the meat for pies and he forgets his concerns. She leaves him grinding and locks the door to the bakehouse.

As she returns upstairs, she finds the Beadle at the harmonium in her parlor. He has come in response to complaints about a foul smell from her chimney. She says she can't take him into the bakehouse until Mr. Todd comes home. She distracts the Beadle by singing with him ("Parlor Songs"). Todd arrives. He takes the Beadle upstairs for a free shave before his inspection of the ovens. In the bakehouse, Tobias begins to suspect that the remains of humans are used for the pies just as the Beadle's body comes down the chute. He realises he is locked in and, whimpering, disappears down the cellar steps.

Mrs. Lovett tells Todd Tobias suspects them. She wants Todd to dispense with Tobias at once, but Todd is focused on extracting his revenge from the Judge.

Anthony comes to save Johanna at the asylum, but when the owner tries to stop him, he cannot bring himself to shoot. Johanna grabs the gun and kills the owner. They escape. The lunatics are freed from the asylum and spill with euphoric excitement into the street ("City on Fire"). Mrs. Lovett and Todd look for Tobias. The Beggar Woman searches for the Beadle.

Anthony and Johanna arrive at the barber shop. She wears a sailor suit. At Anthony's insistence, Johanna stays behind as he leaves to hire a coach for their escape to Plymouth. The Beggar Woman appears. Johanna hides in a trunk. The Beggar Woman surveys the room and being there seems to stimulate something within her. She cradles and begins singing to an imaginary infant.

Todd discovers her. She tries to warn him about Mrs. Lovett and again wonders if she doesn't know him. He turns on her, slits her throat and releases her down the chute. The Judge enters. Sweeney pretends Johanna is safely with Mrs. Lovett and is longing to be reunited with him. Todd convinces the Judge to have a shave to prepare for his meeting with Johanna. The Judge recognises Sweeney as Benjamin Barker just as the Judge's throat is slit.

Todd starts out of the room to deal with Tobias as Johanna emerges from the trunk. Mistaking her for a sailor because of her disguise, Todd tries to attack her, but she escapes. He runs to the bakehouse. Mrs. Lovett is screaming "Die! Die! God in heaven-die!!" to the Judge who is hanging on to her skirt. As he dies, she notices the body of the Beggar Woman.

She frantically tries to drag the Beggar Woman to the oven. Todd sees the woman in the light and realises she is his wife, Lucy. He accuses Mrs. Lovett of deceiving him. She says she never said Lucy died, only that she took poison. She was trying to protect him ("Final Sequence"). She tries to stem his anger and he pretends his forgiveness by waltzing with her. He waltzes her to the oven and shoves her in. Then he cradles the Beggar Woman in his arms. Tobias appears, his hair now completely white from shock. He kills Sweeney with the razor, which has fallen on the floor. Constables, Anthony, and Johanna appear. Tobias has lost his mind; he cannot stop turning the handle on the grinder.

The company sings "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd." They claim to see the Sweeney in each of us. At the end, Sweeney glares at the audience malevolently and he slams the iron door.

Rates and Fees

Education and Community Theatre Rates.

Rehearsal Materials

Rehearsal Material on Hire
Minimum Hire fee: A$575.00 – 3 month(s) prior to final performance
Additional Hire fee: A$144.00 – per month

Orchestral Materials

Orchestral Material on Hire
Minimum Hire fee: A$357.00 – 1 month(s) prior to final performance
Additional Hire fee: A$123.00 – per month

Royalty Fees

16% of your ticket sales
Minimum: A$285.00 per performance

Other Fees

Booking and Handling Fee: A$69.00
Materials Security Deposit: from A$200.00 - A$500.00

Billing and Advertising Requirements

Click here to view the billing and advertising requirements for this show.

Title Season Organisation Venue Location Website
Sweeney Todd School Edition 17 - 24 May 14 EPSOM GIRLS GRAMMAR SCHOOL RAYE FREEDMAN ARTS CENTRE NEW ZEALAND
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