Eerily Familiar: Where You’ve Seen and Heard Sweeney Todd Before
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is set to make it’s West Australian premiere at His Majesty’s Theatre this July, but if the name of the notorious titular character sounds eerily familiar to you, it’s because the infamous Barber has become a pop culture icon since he first terrified audiences in New York in 1979. From an Academy Award-winning adaptation to a hilarious episode of The Office, here is a list of where you may have seen and heard Sweeney Todd and Stephen Sondheim’s chilling score before.
Perhaps the most notable adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is the 2007 Academy Award-winning film by Tim Burton (Dumbo, Edward Scissorhands). Burton cast his frequent collaborators Johnny Depp and his then-partner Helena Bonham-Carter in the lead roles of Sweeney Todd and the deranged pie-maker Mrs Lovett. Rounding out the all-star cast are the late-Alan Rickman as the villainous Judge Turpin, Sacha Baron Cohen as Pirelli and Timothy Spall as Beadle. The film was well received and garnered three Academy Award nominations including Best Actor for Johnny Depp, Best Costume Design for Australian costume designer Collen Atwood and won the award for Best Art Direction. Sondheim himself has praised Burton’s adaptation even though several of his famous musical numbers were left on the cutting room floor.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is rated R. Watch the trailer below.
Jersey Girl (2004 film)
Before there were Brangelina, Kimye and Jelena; there was the original super couple Bennifer (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez). Over a whirlwind 18-month period the then-power couple made newspaper headlines and two films together, the critically panned Gigli and the slightly better received Jersey Girl. While the latter might be remembered by many as the final collaboration between one of Hollywood’s short-lived super couples, I fondly remember it for introducing me to the music of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In Jersey Girl, widower Ollie (Ben Affleck) is in a career slump while struggling to raise his musical theatre loving daughter, Gertie (Raquel Castro) who is obsessed with the musical Sweeney Todd; which is an unusual choice for a seven-year-old. Eventually, in the film’s climax, Castro’s Gertie performs a sweet rendition of the infamous Sondheim number “God That’s Good” alongside Ben Affleck’s Ollie who steps in the role as Sweeney Todd.
Watch the scene when young Gertie first discovers Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street below.
Watch Ben Affleck and Raquel Castro’s sweet rendition of “God That’s Good” from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
The Office, Season 7, Episode 3 “Andy’s Play” (2010)
One of the most hilarious references to Sweeney Todd to date is this episode of the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning series, The Office. In a bid to win over his colleague Erin (Ellie Kemper), Andy decides to take part in a local production of Sweeney Todd and impresses his co-workers with a lively (to say the least) rendition of “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”. Chaos ensues when Andy’s colleague Michael (Steve Carell) who unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of Sweeney Todd loses his composure on opening night, which results in a series of hilarious hijinks that make for one memorable production.
Watch the hilarious rendition of “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”.
Watch Andy’s memorable production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Good Eats, “Oh My Meat Pie” (2008)
In this episode of the long-running Cooking Channel Series, Good Eats, host Alton Brown uncovers his great, great grandfather’s journey from London to America where he recounts his chance meeting with Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett in a pie shop in Fleet Street. After eating “The worst pies in London”, Mr Brown teaches Mrs Lovett how to make Shepherd and fruit mince pies. Here is a brief clip from the Sweeney Todd episode of Good Eats.
Here is a brief clip from the Sweeney Todd episode of Good Eats.
Hamilton Cast Perform Opening Number Homage to Sweeney Todd (2016)
In 2016 at the annual Easter Bonnet competition, the cast of the smash hit musical, Hamilton performed a Sweeney Todd inspired number to the tune of the Hamilton opening number “Alexander Hamilton”. Audiences were so blown away by the performance which re-told the story of Sweeney Todd with a hip-hop flair that the cast raised a staggering $516,029 for the annual fundraiser. Hamilton creator and star Lin Manuel-Miranda who also composed the music for Disney’s Moana and recently starred in Mary Poppins Returns stepped into the infamous shoes of the ill-fated Sweeney Todd as he slashed and rapped his way on stage, but the real showstopper was Hamilton’s Jonathan Groff sporting a meat pie looking bonnet.
Watch the clip of the Sweeney Todd performance also starring Tony Winners Leslie Odom JR and Renée Elise Goldsberry.
These clips will only give you a little glimpse of what you can expect to see when Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street makes its debut at His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth. Don’t miss out on this bloody fantastic production, starring Ben Mingay and Antoinette Halloran and featuring costumes from Tony Award winner Roger Kirk. Book your tickets now!