Sweeney Todd

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Sweeney Todd is a fictional villain immortalized in the 1979 Broadway musical, "Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" by Stephen Sondheim and later released as a motion picture starring Johnny Depp. The play is based on folklore dating back to the 19th Century and is set in London.

It is sometimes claimed that the Sweeney Todd story is based upon fact, but no evidence of this has ever been found. It is far more likely that the play was based on "penny dreadful" horror stories sold in Victorian times.


Benjamin Barker, a barber by trade, was transported on false charges by a corrupt Judge Turpin, who then seduced and raped his wife (Lucy) and became the legal guardian of their daughter Johanna. His ultimate goal is to marry Johanna once she reaches majority.

Barker manages to escape and returns to London. Taking the name Sweeney Todd, he befriends Anthony (a young sailor who rescued him at sea, and who falls in love with Johanna), Mrs. Lovett (owner of a pie shop), and Toby (a simpleton who serves as his assistant). Todd and Lovett hatch a diabolical plan: Todd will cuts the throats of gentlemen whilst shaving them with a straight razor, then use a trapdoor to send the bodies downstairs [1] to Mrs. Lovett (the "crafty butcher of Fleet Street"), who bakes the poor victims into meat pies.[2] Anthony's role is to lure Turpin to Todd's shop, Toby grinds the dead bodies; neither are fully aware of the entire scheme. Throughout the musical a beggar lady appears.

Ultimately Todd is successful in exacting his revenge on Turpin. However, he also kills the beggar lady, only to learn that she is his beloved Lucy. Mrs. Lovett admits she knew all along but desired Todd for herself; Todd pushes her into the oven baking her alive. Anthony is able to be with Johanna.


  1. Rapkin, Mickey (1 June 2010). Theater Geek (in English). Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781439154397. Retrieved on 2 December 2014. “One side of the cube serves as Mrs. Lovett's pie shop, another is decorated as the backdrop to her living room. But climb the stairs to the top of the cube and you'll find yourself in Sweeney Todd's barbershop, complete with a working trapdoor. After the demon barber slits your throat, his chair reclines and the dead body slinks off, disappearing through the floor and down into the oven.” 
  2. Sweeney Todd - A Reference (English). All Things Style, Substance & Reviews. GNS (2014). Retrieved on 2 December 2014. “After taking what he wanted from the victim, Sweeney would then bring in a woman who ran a local pie shop to assist him in taking care of the body. His partner in crime was named Mrs. Lovett, who would help Todd by disposing of the bodies by using their flesh to create her meat pies, which she then sold to her unknowing customers.”