THEATER DISTRICT, Manhattan (PIX11) — It’s been 43 years since a big, full-scale production of “Sweeney Todd” opened on Broadway. Sunday night is the opening for the revival of the “Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”
The latest production of “Sweeney Todd” stars Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford.
Some see “Sweeney Todd” as a love story. Others see it as a tale of a murderous barber whose victims are then turned into meat pies. It’s a story of revenge and how it can consume a vengeful person. The musical is often called Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece.
“Stephen Sondheim always used to say this is a ‘comedy melodrama,'” said Annaleigh Ashford, who plays Mrs. Lovett. “I find that it’s a comedy. I’d also like to add that I think it is one of our greatest pieces of theater and it lives in the world of a ‘Hamlet.’ It has many themes. The most important theme is it’s a cautionary tale against revenge. This is an extreme version of when revenge goes wrong because revenge is wrong.”
When “Sweeney Todd” first opened on Broadway in 1979, it won the Tony Award for Best Musical, but it didn’t recoup its investment because it’s such an expensive musical to stage.
There have been smaller productions, but this revival goes back to the original size, something Sondheim was thrilled about, but he died two days before the first reading back in 2021.
The idea for the big revival started with Groban. It’s been on his wish list for years, ever since high school.
“I love the music, I love the story, I love the way it made me feel when I first saw it,” said Groban, who plays Sweeney Todd. “For those of us who are lucky enough to do this for a living, we all have bucket list shows because we love them. I always wondered if I were able to sink my teeth into it, what would it be like to make it my own.”