Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd.
—from the opening number, "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd"
Sweeney Todd (subtitled "The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"), is a highly-regarded musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler. It is based on the Christopher Bond version of the legendary story of an English barber who murdered his customers and, with the help of his neighbor Mrs. Lovett, made them into pies. In this version of the story, Todd is out to get revenge on a corrupt Judge who sent him to prison on false charges, raped his wife, and "adopted" his daughter fifteen years ago. Mrs. Lovett smoothly tries to dissuade him from this goal so that he can settle down with her.
The original Broadway production went up in 1979 at the Uris Theatre. It was directed by Harold Prince and starred Len Cariou as Sweeney Todd and Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett. It has since been the subject of many revivals and concerts, and is widely considered Sondheim's masterpiece, and since the latest revival and release of the Tim Burton film version, it has become even more popular than Into the Woods.
- Adaptation Distillation/Adaptation Expansion: (a little of both) The characters of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett come from a Victorian "shilling shocker" titled The String of Pearls. It is only in Christopher Bond's modern version, which Sondheim's musical adapts, that Sweeney has a revenge motivation, and Mrs. Lovett has a crush on him.
- Also in the original story, Tobias is employed from the beginning by Sweeney Todd, and he had only very passing interaction with Mrs. Lovett (specifically, stopping by to buy a pie). Instead of Anthony, we had Mark Ingestrie, and he and Johanna have a more unambiguously happy ending. Most of the characters from the play and movie appear, but many have had their roles, relationships, and so on shuffled around, essentially being recast (or using a very, very Alternative Character Interpretation).
- Sondheim also fixes one or two weak moments in Bond's version. Now we actually see the lovers meeting for the first time instead of just hearing about it. Likewise, instead of simply developing a taste for blood, Todd sings "Epiphany" in which his mind snaps after the Judge escapes his clutches and he decides that "we all deserve to die."
- An Aesop: If you seek vengeance, you will only end up becoming as bad as (if not worse than) the one who wronged you.
- Alliterative Name: Benjamin Barker, Beadle Bamford.
- Anti-Hero: Sweeney Todd (Type IV or V), before "Epiphany" where his mind cracks completely.
- Anti-Villain: Again, Sweeney Todd himself.
- The Barber: Sweeney's stock in trade, both as Benjamin Barker and as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
- Bedlam House: Fogg's Asylum, into which Johanna is imprisoned, is a perfect example of this.
- There's also Lucy Barker, who was sent to the actual Bedlam House.
- Big No: Issued by Sweeney when Mrs. Lovett informs him of his wife's rape at the end of "Poor Thing".
- And again at the end, when he realizes that the Beggar Woman whose throat he just slit was his wife.
- Black Comedy: Despite its dark subject matter, the show is surprisingly funny, especially "A Little Priest".
- Bowdlerise: The Other Wiki has details on the high school-appropriate version of this show.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- The section in "Epiphany" where Todd turns on (and in some performances, leaps into and menaces) the audience.
- "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" is addressed directly to the audience and contains the following lines:
What happened then?
- Break the Cutie: Toby, Johanna, Lucy, as well as Todd himself when his name was still Benjamin Barker.
- BSOD Song: "Epiphany".
- Cassandra Truth: The Beggar Woman tells these all the time.
- Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: While searching for Toby in the sewers when he's figured out what's REALLY in the pies. "Tooooby...Where aaaare you..."
- Companion Cube: Sweeney's razors.
- Contrived Proximity: I'm sure that old beggar woman has no importance to the story whatsoever...
- She was hanging around her own old house and where her daughter lived. Still had some memories.
- Cooking Duel: "The Contest"; shaving and tooth-pulling.
- Crapsack World: With one or two possible exceptions, every character is either a Complete Monster or an Extreme Doormat.
Todd: In all of the whole human race, Mrs. Lovett, there are two kinds of men and only two/ There's the one staying put in his proper place / And the one with his foot in the other one's face!/ Look at me, Mrs. Lovett -- look at you!
- Crosscast Role: In the 2005 revival, Pirelli is played by a woman, but as a man.
- Crowd Song: "Pirelli's Miracle Elixir". It slowly morphs into an Angry Mob Song.
- Damsel in Distress: Subverted—although her character mostly fits the trope, in a memorable scene, Anthony rescues Johanna from a madhouse where she is being imprisoned, pointing a gun at the asylum keeper. After Anthony admits he can't shoot, Johanna picks up the gun and kills the asylum keeper.
- Dangerously Close Shave: 'Nuff said.
- Dead Man's Chest: Signore Pirelli's final fate.
- Death by Sex: Played straight, subverted, and double subverted. Lucy swallows poison after being raped, and Sweeney wants to kill Turpin for raping her. However neither of them dies immediately. And when all's said and done, it would seem that only the virgins are left alive. Assuming Johanna is at least a technical virgin and that she and Anthony didn't have sex during "Kiss Me".
- Dirty Old Man: Judge Turpin is an extremely evil example.
- Dissonant Serenity: Sweeney's part in the Johanna Quartet is this. He murders people in an eerily detached manner, singing a gorgeous song.
- Don't Explain the Joke: "And I'm telling you them pussycats is quick!"
- Double Entendre: "You will be guaranteed, without a penny's charge...the closest shave you will ever know."
- "We'll serve anyone... meaning *anyone*..."
- Downer Ending
- The Dragon: The Beadle fills this role for Judge Turpin.
- Driven to Suicide: Lucy poisoned herself, according to Mrs. Lovett. Except she never said that she died...
- Some productions may have Sweeney fill this trope after he realizes he killed his wife. Though arguably, it'd be assisted suicide. Take the concert production, Sweeney unbuttons his collar so Toby can slit his throat easier.
- Drum Roll, Please: Toby does this himself while presenting "Pirelli's Miracle Elixir".
- Due to the Dead: Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett engage in the evil version of this.
- Eat the Evidence: Does this really require explanation?
- Eat the Rich: During "A Little Priest", Sweeney briefly considers exclusively serving the upper classes in Mrs. Lovett's pie shop before discarding the idea as "discriminating".
- Epic Song: The eponymous "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" that opens and closes the show fits.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Sweeney slits people's throats with a straight razor and has the bodies baked into pies, but he won't kill men who have families, which is understandable, since the reason for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge is that he was unjustly taken away from his wife and daughter, who were then raped/Driven to Suicide (well, not exactly) and adopted/implied to be sexually abused by Judge Turpin, respectively. Though it may be more Pragmatic Villainy, families mean witnesses and investigations.
- The latter explains why it's Played for Laughs in the stage version.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Sweeney is a bass-baritone and Judge Turpin a bass. On the other hand, the Beadle and Pirelli are both Counter-Tenors.
- Evil Versus Evil: A Nietzsche Wannabe Serial Killer with a razor who has his victims baked into pies with the help of a ruthless Yandere Stepford Smiler, against a Hanging Judge Pervert whose backstory includes raping the serial killer's wife, and whose introduction is pretty much a Kick the Dog - he has the title character transported for life so that he could have his wife for himself. His "best friend" sees nothing wrong with any of this and is quite content to help him seduce the daughter, who the judge has adopted as his own.
- Fauxreigner: Adolfo Pirelli a.k.a. Daniel O'Higgins, and he's Irish.
- A Fete Worse Than Death: The masked ball in "Poor Thing", which culminates in Judge Turpin raping Sweeney Todd's wife.
- Foreshadowing: And lots of it.
- And my Lucy lies in ashes... Uh, not QUITE yet...
- Why doesn't Mrs. Lovett want the Beggar Woman near Sweeney? She's Lucy.
- Framing Device: In the revival, the events of the play are shown as being the story Toby tells in the insane asylum.
- From a Certain Point of View: The major epiphany of the final scene:
Mrs. Lovett: "No, no, not lied at all- No, I never lied, said she took a poison--she did, never said that she died."
- Funny Foreigner: Subverted—Signore Pirelli's exaggerated Italian accent and mannerisms are faked; the character is really an Irishman named Daniel/Davey. This can turn into a Double Subversion, depending on how strong the Irish accent and mannerisms are presented (see the 1982 videotaped stage performance for an example).
- Get Out!: Sweeney's reaction to Anthony's very untimely foiling of his first attempt to kill Turpin.
- Go Among Mad People: Happens to Johanna.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Tobias, after he discovers what's in the pies.
- Hair of Gold: Johanna. "I am in the dark beside you, buried sweetly in your yellow hair!"
- Hanging Judge: Judge Turpin.
- Hated Hometown: When Sweeney agrees that "there's no place like London", it's not praise.
- The Hecate Sisters: Johanna as the maiden, Mrs. Lovett as the mother and the Beggar Woman as the crone.
- Hero Antagonist: Tobias Ragg.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Sweeney becomes worse than the monsters after "Epiphany".
- High-Pressure Blood: Depending on the production. Can also be done on-stage, but it's very tricky.
- Human Resources: The two main characters use human flesh in decidedly resourceful ways.
- Hurricane of Puns: The wickedly funny string of allusions to personalities and flavors in the number "A Little Priest", where the two figure out how they'll dispose of the body upstairs (and make a tidy profit out of future customers, at the expense of the rival pie shop across the way).
- Hypocritical Humor: "Wouldn't do in my shop/why the thought's enough to make you sick/and I'm telling you them pussy cats is quick!"
- "I Am Becoming" Song: "Epiphany" and "Johanna (Quartet)".
- If You Know What I Mean: "If you get my drift..."
- "No?" . . . "AH!" "Good, you got it."
- Large Ham:
- In "A Little Priest", the actor always arrives overdone...
- Pirelli, full stop.
- George He- excuse me, GEORGE HEARN!!!
- And when paired with Patti LuPone, it gets taken to new levels, very effectively.
- During "A Little Priest", if Sweeney and Lovett aren't completely tearing the house down, they're doing it wrong.
- Ignorance Is Bliss: Toby has this at first toward the meat pies he and his new family are selling.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Judge Turpin has a serious problem with lust when it comes to pretty women, and ends up doing this to Lucy Barker in the "Poor Thing" scene.
- I'm a Humanitarian: You are if you eat at Mrs. Lovett's pie shop.
- Informed Attractiveness: Lucy and Johanna.
- The Ingenue: Johanna, at least until some time in the asylum.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: Pat-a-cake pat-a-cake baker's man...
- Irony: Johanna is the only member of her family who goes to an insane asylum, but she's also the only member of her family who hasn't gone insane.
- That really depends on how she's played—sometimes she's already insane, and sometimes she only goes insane after she's put in the insane asylum.
- In pursuit of vengeance for his wife, and wanting his daughter back, Sweeney winds up murdering his wife and almost kills his daughter, who's in disguise.
- Lucy wound up in Bedlam instead of a hospital, so technically Johanna isn't the only one of the family to end up in a nut-house.
- All three of the Barkers end up in their old room together and none of them are aware that the others are there.
- "I Want" Song: Mrs Lovett's "By the Sea" song, all about the future she's hoping for.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Lucy Barker.
- Kangaroo Court: Judge Turpin's trial of Benjamin Barker is anything but fair.
- Karmic Death: Sweeney Todd delivers one to Judge Turpin out of vengeance and later suffers another himself by irony.
- Likewise, Mrs Lovett is baked to death inside her own oven.
- Kick the Dog: Judge Turpin and the Beadle are dog kicking machines. Senseless acts of evil include:
- The imprisonment of Benjamin Barker on a false charge, sending him to a prison colony for many years (Judge Turpin).
- Raping Lucy Barker and thus driving her mad (Judge Turpin).
- The sentencing of a little boy to death (Judge Turpin).
- Snapping the neck of the bird that Anthony had bought for Johanna (the Beadle).
- Throwing Johanna into Fogg's Asylum for defying Turpin (Judge Turpin).
- Pirelli's brutal treatment of poor Toby also qualifies as a Kick the Dog moment.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Sweeney begins his transition into a Serial Killer by killing Adolfo Pirelli.
- Kill'Em All: Were you expecting a revenge tragedy to have a happy ending? Sweeney Todd, Judge Turpin, Lucy, and Mrs. Lovett are all dead. Only Toby, Johanna, and presumably Anthony are all alive. The police burst into the bakehouse just after Toby has slit Sweeney's throat, and is deliriously repeating Mrs. Lovett's secret of how to make the pies juicy and tender. "Three times, that's the secret.. three times through the grinder." This suggests that Toby is on his way to a Bedlam House. Anthony and Johanna are also there with the police, though their presence is not explained (probably the fact that Johanna just witnessed two grisly murders has to do with it, though), and whether or not they get anything resembling a happy ending is left open to interpretation.
- Kill the Ones You Love: Sweeney kills Lucy unaware that she is actually the beggar.
- Lady Macbeth: Mrs. Lovett is arguably more evil than Sweeney Todd. Given that while he has the excuse of having endured terrible tragedy and going crazy, she participates in and encourages his mass-murdering for financial motives, and it was her suggestion to cook the corpses of his victims in the first place.
Then, of course, there's Mrs. Lovett's ulterior motive in not telling Sweeney that his wife is alive and is the crazy Beggar Woman; she lets him think his wife is dead because of her crush on Sweeney.
- Last-Second Word Swap: In "The Worst Pies in London":
Mrs. Lovett: Is that just revolting,
- Least Rhymable Word: "Locksmith."
- Lethal Chef: Subverted - Mrs. Lovett is this before she starts making pies of human flesh; she says because she couldn't afford fresh meat she resorted to "finding animals dying in the street". Afterward, her meat pies are delicious (if now lethal in a rather different way).
- Actually it's implied that another baker in the neighborhood is using animals: "Mrs. Mooney has a pie shop!/Does a business but I notice something weird/Lately all her neighbors' cats have disappeared!/Have to hand it to her --/Wot I calls/Enterprise/Poppin' pussies into pies!/Wouldn't do in my shop!" It's not until the number "A Little Priest" that Mrs. Lovett begins using unusual sources of meat.
- "And I'm telling you, them pussycats is quick!" Lovett is plenty "enterprising" herself.
- Except she's not - she's too slow to catch them. "Wouldn't do in my shop/Just the thought of it's enough to make you sick/And I'm telling you, them pussycats is quick." If she was fast enough she'd be using them but cause she can't her pies are "nothing but crusting" and "only lard and nothing more."
- Like Mother, Like Daughter: A blink-and-you'll-miss-it example, but at the beginning of "Kiss Me", Johanna's first idea of how to avoid marrying Turpin is to poison herself: "I'll swallow poison on Sunday/That's what I'll do, I'll get some lye..."
- Locked Into Strangeness: Toby, at the finale.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Johanna.
- The Lost Lenore: Lucy, to Sweeney.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Mrs. Lovett, in spades.
- Loving a Shadow: Sweeney has a variation in regards to his fatherly love of Johanna. His version of the Johanna quartet is basically him wondering what she's like.
- Lured into a Trap: The "Poor Thing" sequence has Beadle Bamford luring Lucy Barker to a masked ball at Judge Turpin's mansion, telling her that the Judge is remorseful about sending away her husband, Benjamin Barker, for life on a false charge. Turns out he's anything but remorseful, and has used this as a means to get her alone and defenseless.
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "A Little Priest".
- Also Mrs. Lovett's verse in "Not While I'm Around"; she repeats Toby's protests of love and loyalty, but the creepy, wheedling violin solo underneath makes them sound totally insincere.
- Made From Real Girl Scouts: "Or we have some shepherd's pie, peppered with actual shepherd on top."
- Mad Love: Depending on the version, Mrs. Lovett's one-sided obsession with Sweeney can be seen as an example of this trope, particularly considering her attempts to keep him from discovering that his wife is still alive.
- Madness Mantra: In a way, the old woman Lucy, near the end. "Beadle deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle dumpling!"
- Also, Toby at the end of the stage show. "Three times, that's the secret, three times through the grinder."
- Manipulative Bastard:
- Mrs. Lovett, you're a bloody wonder.
- Also Todd's scheme in Act II, where he helps Anthony to rescue Johanna by setting him up as a wigmaker's apprentice and betrays Anthony to the Judge in order to lure the latter back to his parlor. In particular, the song "The Letter" shows Todd agonizing over the exact words that will manipulate the Judge's lust and sense of inadequacy.
- Meaningful Name: "Tod(d)" is German for "death".
- Midword Rhyme: "Ladies in their Sensitivities".
When a girl's emergent
—tility, my Lord
- And again in the same song!
Meaning no offense, it
—ivities, my Lord
- Moment Killer: Anthony walks into the barbershop for one of his trademark interruptions right after Mrs. Lovett suggests to Sweeney that they can "have a life together". YMMV, especially if you're not a Sweeney/Lovett fan.
- Murder by Cremation: Mrs. Lovett.
- My God, What Have I Done?: After realizing that the old beggar woman he killed was Lucy, Sweeney Todd has this reaction, before turning his anger towards Mrs. Lovett, who told a bit of a Jedi Truth.
- Mystery Meat
- Never Trust a Hair Tonic: Pirelli's Miracle Elixir... isn't.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: In the songs "Epiphany" and "A Little Priest", Sweeney justifies his actions based upon the utter corruption of the world. He even states that all Humans Are Bastards who deserve to die.
There's a hole in the world, like a great black pit,
- No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: Sweeney to Turpin, the Trope Namer. Also, the Beggar Woman.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Len Cariou in the original production made no attempt at an English accent.
- Which actually helped sharpen the character's isolation from the rest of the cast, most of whom either were English or affecting Fake Brit accents.
- Obi-Wan Moment: Sweeney's death.
- Oh Crap:
- Judge Turpin, upon finally learning just who Sweeney Todd is, just before Sweeney takes brutal and final vengeance.
- As well as Sweeney himself after Pirelli reveals that he knows him from the old days, with similar results.
- Opening Chorus
- The Ophelia: Johanna in many productions. She's sometimes wearing flowers in her hair when she's in the asylum.
- Penal Colony: Botany Bay in Australia, where Benjamin was transported for life.
- Perky Female Minion: Mrs. Lovett. In the musical, she is clearly the comic foil to the brooding and vengeful Todd. Makes her Moral Event Horizon(s) all the more jarring.
- Pre-Asskicking/Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "BENJAMIN BARKER!!!"
- Psycho Supporter: Mrs. Lovett's support of Sweeney's murder sprees and her eagerness to get rid of the corpses in such a disturbed manner make her a prime example of this trope.
- Rape as Drama: Lucy Barker.
- Reduced to Ratburgers: In the time that the play is set in, there is a meat shortage in London, such that those without means often have to turn to other avenues to get their meat, such as catching animals off the streets to be made into pies. It is this situation which leads to Mrs. Lovett's idea to serve up Sweeney's victims as meat pies. After all...
Sweeney: These are desperate times, Mrs. Lovett, and desperate measures are called for.
- Refuge in Audacity: If he had only murdered his customers, Sweeney would have been reprehensible. By having them made into pies, he is cool.
- Retirony: Arguably, "By the Sea".
- Revenge: Sweeney Todd is done in the style of a classical revenge tragedy.
- Rule of Threes: There were originally three songs written called "Johanna", one of them sung by Anthony, the second by Judge Turpin and the last by Sweeney.
- Also, Mrs. Lovett's instructions for making the meat pies:
"Three times... that's the secret... three times through the grinder..."
- Sanity Slippage Song: "Epiphany". Dear gods, "Epiphany".
- Scare Chord: SWING YOUR RAZOR WIDE, SWEENEY! HOLD IT TO THE SKY!
- The first two verses were sung with only the singer illuminated. During the music between the second verse and the above line, the entire stage was dark and the entire cast assembled in ranks. The line starts; cue every spotlight in the house going on and Scare Chord. Truly amazing.
- Scenery Porn: The stage version generally has to use a double-level set and depending on the available resources it can get more elaborate from there. On the other hand, John Doyle's 2004 staging in London (later transferred to Broadway) was a minimalist version that had only 10 actors who played instruments when they were not singing themselves, and only suggested its settings.
- Also, the concert version performed in New York and San Francisco had no sets whatsoever, the actors performed on platforms surrounded by the orchestra.
- The Secret of Long Pork Pies
- Serial Killer: Sweeney himself, as well as his "A String of Pearls" incarnation.
- Sex Is Evil: According to Judge Turpin.
- Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: Various theater versions of this musical have various takes on this. Some make him a more clear-cut example by highlighting his self-loathing, while others make him a more one-dimensional Complete Monster.
- Slashed Throat: Well, it is Sweeney Todd.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Todd is contrasted with the young sailor Anthony Hope, who is a romantic idealist.
- It should be noted that Anthony Hope is still alive at the end. Whether this is good or bad is dependent on where you fall on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
- Snake Oil Salesman: Pirelli.
- So Beautiful It's a Curse: All of the Barkers. Lucy's beauty is what caused the Judge's attraction to her and kickstarted the plot. The same applies to Johanna once she grows older and the Judge sets his sights on her. Meanwhile, Todd may have been able to reunite with Lucy (or at least not have killed her) if he hadn't attracted Mrs. Lovett.
- Sociopathic Hero: Given that he was wrongly imprisoned for more than a decade and has lost his wife and daughter, the audience is encouraged to sympathize with Sweeney Todd. At first.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: One of the best scores in musical theatre belongs to a play about a guy who slits people's throats and has them baked into pies.
- A beautifully executed example in the "Johanna" sequence near the beginning of Act II, where Sweeney's steady, gentle, romantic theme is at odds with the atrocities he is simultaneously committing, showing how disassociated he has become.
- Spanner in the Works: The story would have been a lot shorter if Anthony hadn't apparently competed in a "say something incriminating as quickly as possible" contest.
- Stalker with a Crush: Anthony, to Johanna.
- A case for Mrs. Lovett being one of these can be made with respect to Todd. She waited 15 years for him and never knew him any more than in passing. She also outright confesses she's been watching him. Which is pretty squicky even if she is played by a grotesquely attractive Helena Bonham Carter.
- Stalking Is Love: Anthony's infatuation with Johanna and Mrs. Lovett's obsession with Sweeney Todd can both come across like this. Judge Turpin appears this way at first, but this is horribly subverted when a few minutes later it's revealed that he rapes Lucy after seemingly attempting to court her.
- Stepford Smiler: Mrs. Lovett is an example of the facade being the true personality with a bit of Yandere thrown in, always almost always cheerful and kindly, but having no qualms about chopping up and cooking Todd's victims, motivated by obsessive love for Sweeney Todd and a desire to improve her economic standing.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Johanna after the escape from Fogg's Asylum.
- That Man Is Dead: "It's Todd now. Sweeney Todd. And he will have his revenge."
- That Reminds Me of a Song: The Beadle's "Parlor Songs". The fact that he is spending so much time singing is relevant to the plot, but the content of the songs is not.
- There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: "There's the one staying put in his proper place and the one with his foot in the other one's face."
- Tragic Dream: She may be a Complete Monster, but Lovett's enthusiastic dream of marrying Todd and living a blissful life in a seaside Stepford Suburbia is never going to happen. As everything starts falling apart she seems to grow desperate to cling to this.
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Sweeney Todd and Johanna. Justified Trope as 15 years in prison would not do wonders in the looks department.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: Mrs. Lovett puts Pirelli's purse in hers.
- Villainous Breakdown/BSOD: "Epiphany". Dear gods, "Epiphany". Also, Sweeney seems to descend into an even deeper circle of insanity hell after he finds out he killed his own wife.
- And a "The Villain Protagonist Sucks" song with "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" itself, of course.
- Villainous Crush: Judge Turpin for both Lucy and Johanna.
- Villain Protagonist: Mr. Todd himself.
- Villain Song: Almost every other song, but especially "Epiphany".
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: "Poor Thing", which describes Judge Turpin's most despicable act.
- Voice Types: Pretty much every voice type is represented:
- Johanna - soprano.
- Beggar Woman - mezzo-soprano/belter.
- Mrs. Lovett - mezzo-soprano or contralto.
- Beadle Bamford - tenor/counter-tenor.
- Pirelli - tenor.
- Tobias - tenor.
- Anthony - lyric baritone or tenor.
- Sweeney Todd - bass-baritone.
- Judge Turpin - bass.
- Weapon of Choice: Sweeney's razors.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Anthony Hope sees evil only when it's being rubbed in his face (example: any interaction he has with the Beadle). Even then, he believes that good will win.
- Wife Husbandry: Judge Turpin attempts this in regards to Johanna. It fails.
- Willing Suspension of Disbelief: We are asked to accept that a serial killer can operate so openly for so long before people realize that very few customers of Todd's are ever seen again after their appointments. However, it seems that the plan is only to dispose of visiting foreigners and other people who have no close acquaintances in the city, which makes it slightly more believable.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Sweeney Todd himself.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Anthony believes himself to be the romantic hero of a love story between him and Johanna and is completely naive to how corrupt and evil the other characters are (including his "friend" Sweeney Todd). Johanna seems much less naive than him as she grew up with the Judge and knows how awful he is.
- Similarly, in different ways, both Toby and Mrs. Lovett seem to think of themselves as being in a more conventional Victorian rags to riches story, with Lovett planning a better life away from the city, and Toby believing that he can protect and repay her for saving him. Indeed, much of the pathos in the play comes from characters acting as though they are in a rather different style of performance.
- Yandere: Mrs. Lovett.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: At the very end, Todd finally tells Mrs. Lovett everything she's been longing for him to tell her throughout the play, while dancing with her. And then he throws her in the oven and lets her burn to death.
- You Never Asked: Mrs. Lovett told Todd that his wife poisoned herself while he was gone, but didn't mention that Lucy was still alive, but had gone crazy and become a street beggar. Lovett keeping this fact from Todd caused him to kill his wife.