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The Ballad of Sweeney Todd

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This is the main theme from Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The original opening from the theatrical production.

Lyrics:


As the audience enters, an organist takes his place at a huge eccentric organ to the side of the stage and begins to play funeral music. Before a front drop depicting in a honeycombed beehive the class system of mid-19th century England two gravediggers appear, carrying shovels, and begin to dig a grave downstage center. As they dig they disappear six feet into the earth, leaving piles of dirt on the upstage side.



At curtain time a police warden appears, looks at his watch, hurrying them. Two workmen enter. They pull down the drop. The deafeningly shrill sound of a factory whistle. Blackout.



The lights come up to reveal the company. A man steps forward and sings.



MAN (Tobias in the 2005 revival):

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd.

His skin was pale and his eye was odd.

He shaved the faces of gentlemen

Who never thereafter were heard of again.

He trod a path that few have trod,

Did Sweeney Todd,

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.



ANOTHER MAN:

He kept a shop in London town,

Of fancy clients and good renown.

And what if none of their souls were saved?

They went to their maker impeccably shaved

By Sweeney,

By Sweeney Todd,

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.



(A blinding light cuts down the stage as an upstage iron door opens. Two men enter. They carry a body in a bag, tied at both ends with rope. They are followed by a woman carrying a tin canister marked "Flour." They walk to the edge of the grave and unceremoniously dump the body in it. The woman opens the canister and pours black ashes into the hole. This action covers the next verse of the song)



COMPANY:

Swing your razor wide, Sweeney!

Hold it to the skies!

Freely flows the blood of those

Who moralize!



SOLOISTS:

His needs were few, his room was bare:

A lavabo and a fancy chair,

A mug of suds and a leather strop,

An apron, a towel, a pail and a mop.

For neatness he deserves a nod,

Does Sweeney Todd,



COMPANY:

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.



WOMEN:

Inconspicuous Sweeney was,

Quick and quiet and clean 'e was.

Back of his smile, under his word,

Sweeney heard music that nobody heard.

Sweeney pondered and Sweeney planned,

Like a perfect machine 'e planned.

Sweeney was smooth, Sweeney was subtle,

Sweeney would blink and rats would scuttle.



{The men join in singing, voices overlapping, in a gradual crescendo)



Sweeney was smooth, Sweeney was subtle,

Sweeney would blink and rats would scuttle.

Inconspicuous Sweeney was,

Quick and quiet and clean 'e was,

Like a perfect machine 'e was,

Was Sweeney!

Sweeney!

Sweeney!

Sweeeeeneeeeey!



(TODD rises out of the grave and sings as the company repeats his words)



TODD AND COMPANY:

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd.

He served a dark and a vengeful god.



TODD:

What happened then -- well, that's the play,

And he wouldn't want us to give it away,

Not Sweeney,



TODD AND COMPANY:

Not Sweeney Todd,

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. ..

(The scene blacks out. The bells of a clock tower chine. Early morning light comes up. ..)

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