‘Sweeney Todd’ Offers Pies and Mash With a Heaping of Bloody Good Fun

Good old fashioned pie and mash has never tasted this good. The secret ingredient? You don’t want to know. Stephen Sondheim’s famous psychopathic barber has journeyed from the gloomy industrial smog of London to the frenetic teeming streets of New York City’s West Village; 27 Barrow Street to be exact, where “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is now playing at the homey Barrow Street Theater.

“Sweeney Todd” is the iconic tale of a London barber gone mad after the sadistic Judge Turpin framed him for a crime he didn’t commit. Driven by a thirst for vengeance, Todd reopens his barber shop and goes from cutting hair to slicing throats, while his faithful and equally disturbed assistant, Mrs. Lovett, bakes the bodies into her famous meat pies. Todd will stop at nothing until he gets the evil Judge Turpin into his barber’s chair, and turns him into the bloodiest meat pie of all.

The fiendish barber and his demonic assistant first came to life in 1840s Victorian fiction, where the blood-thirsty duo were the subject of some popular serials. The story took on new life when Christopher Bond adapted Sweeney Todd into his own play in 1973. Six years later, master songwriter Stephen Sondheim thought he’d do Bond one better by morphing the new play into an even newer musical. The rest, of course, is history.

“Sweeney Todd” has lived on in over 20 productions since 1979, playing across Europe and the United States. The story even earned its own movie adaptation, with the release of Tim Burton’s critically acclaimed “Sweeney Todd” in 2007.

Barrow Street’s theatrical production borrows its razor-sharp tune from a 2014 London production, which was staged in an actual pie and mash shop called Harrington’s. As part of the presentation, the production utilized chefs who prepared actual pies and mash for the audience prior to the show.

The Barrow Street Theater’s production of “Sweeney Todd” continues the tradition, presenting a pie and mash dish to every audience member in attendance. The pies are prepared by former White House chef Bill Yoses, who traded his sparkling West Wing spatula for a bloody Fleet Street butcher knife. His special ingredient is top-secret, but that’s just part of the fun.  

“Sweeney Todd” has been playing at Barrow Street since March 1st, where it has enjoyed a popular and critically acclaimed run. The play is an official production of The Tooting Arts Club, which originated the Harrington’s production in London. “Sweeney Todd” is directed by Bill Buckhurst, who previously directed numerous productions at the Shakespeare’s Globe theater company, including “King Lear” and “Hamlet.”

“Sweeney Todd” stars Hugh Panaro in the title role. Hugh has received much recognition for his famed portrayal of the Phantom in over 2,000 performances of “The Phantom of the Opera.” The role of Mrs. Lovett is played by Carolee Carmello, who has appeared in over 14 Broadway musicals and earned a Tony nomination for her role in “Scandalous.” The supporting cast includes Stacie Bono, Jake Boyd, Eryn Lecroy, John-Michael Lyles, and Michael James Leslie as Judge Turpin.

The creative team includes Production Design by Simon Kenny, Music Supervision & Arrangement by Benjamin Cox, Music Direction by Matt Aument, Choreography by Georgina Lamb, Lighting Design by Amy Mae and Sound Design by Matt Stinn

The Tooting Arts Club’s production of “Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street” runs at the Barrow Street Theater until Feb. 25, 2018.