His first words, showed a character who is dishevelled, defeated and on edge, which is in stark comparison to my preconception of Sweeney Todd from Johnny Depp’s calm and collected portrayal of the character. This is further shown throughout the musical as the character’s development from a broken man to one of confidence is more gradual. One clear jump in character is shown during the scene starting at “Pirelli’s Mirical Elixer” followed by “The Contest”. Todd enters the scene both nervous and scared, but by the end of the scene he strides around with pride and projects his voice with certainty.
Another, extremely unexpected difference between the film and musical is the increased focus on sexual content. The scene where Mrs Lovett and Sweeney Todd molested each other with pies brought many giggles out of the audience. The show contained a few comedic moments, however I would argue that some scenes would be better without it.
The victims of Todd were disposed of via an unfolding chair that slides bodies into a trap door. During the song ‘Johanna (Reprise)‘ one of the bodies seemed to have got stuck on the chair and had to be pushed down manually by David Arnsperger. This was very funny to watch but it did not suit the tone of the song and it felt out of place. If this was intentional then I would say that it was a very poor choice.
Given that the show is about a mass murderer you can expect at least a lot of killing, and as with most creatures in life, with killing comes blood. It is in the blood department that we see another point of contrast with the Tim Burton adaptation. In the Tim Burton adaptation you will find wonderful fountains of blood spewing with ferocious velocity, whereas the musical displayed small red waterfalls that slowly trickle down the chest of the victims. The amount of blood is not excessive and shouldn’t be an issue for those less fond of gore.
My last remarks will be on the set design and theme. The musical takes a minimalist approach to set design. The default scene is of a shipping yard as shown by four typical shipping containers that each open up to reveal a different room. The rooms contained within are aptly decorated and in combination with the lighting provide very fitting environments for the story to unfold. What confused me was the time period the musical was set in, many of the extra performers wore clothes that fit many different generations.