Anthony Hope rides a ship into London. Despite Hope's enthusiasm, his friend and shipmate Sweeney Todd is grim and uneasy. This mood is worsened by a half-mad Beggar Woman who begs from (then sexually solicits) both Anthony and Todd who is run off by Todd ("No Place Like London"). As they prepare to part, Todd tells a tragic story about a young and na?ve barber with a beautiful wife and the lustful judge who exiled him to covet her ("Barber and His Wife").
Todd finds his old apartment in a building above a meat-pie shop on Fleet Street, where he encounters the shop's proprietress, Mrs. Lovett. She complains about her competition, her own pitiful pies and her hard economic times ("Worst Pies in London"). She sings the sad tale of the upstairs apartment's previous tenant, a barber named Benjamin Barker, who had been falsely sentenced by the lecherous Judge Turpin and his corrupt cohort Beadle Bamford, because of the Judge's lust for Barker's wife Lucy. She reveals how, once Barker had been sent to Australia, the Judge had lured Lucy to his house and raped her. Afterwards, she poisoned herself and Barker's infant daughter, Johanna, became a ward of the Judge ("Poor Thing"). Mrs. Lovett quickly realizes that Sweeney is that same barber. She shows Todd his collection of sterling silver razors, which she has kept hidden for years, telling him that he can become a barber again ("My Friends" and "Ballad of Sweeney Todd: Lift Your Razor High, Sweeney!").
In the next scene, Anthony notices a girl singing at a window ("Green Finch and Linnet Bird" and "Ah, Miss"); the Beggar Woman from earlier tells him that the girl is Johanna, the Judge's ward. Antony is immediately smitten and pledges to woo her, but the Judge and Beadle threaten him off ("Johanna"). Meanwhile, in the crowded marketplace, renowned Italian barber Adolfo Pirelli and his drum-beating tout Tobias pitch a cure-all for hair loss ("Pirelli's Miracle Elixir"). Todd, after exposing the elixir as fraudulent, challenges Pirelli to a shaving competition and wins easily ("Contest"). Todd invites the Beadle, who acted (at Todd's suggestion) as the judge of the competition, to visit his parlor for a complimentary shave ("Ballad of Sweeney Todd: Sweeney Pondered and Sweeney Planned").
Later, as Todd impatiently waits for the Beadle's arrival, Mrs. Lovett urges patience ("Wait"), just as Pirelli and Tobias visit the shop. Mrs. Lovett takes Tobias downstairs for a meat pie, leaving Todd alone with Pirelli, who reveals that he has learned Todd's true identity and tries blackmail. Rather than pay Pirelli off, Todd attacks Pirelli and bludgeons him, dumping his body into an empty trunk just before Tobias enters looking for Pirelli. Todd sends Tobias back down to Mrs. Lovett, tempting him with the offer of another pie and "a nice big tot of gin", and once the door has shut behind Tobias, Todd opens the trunk and slits Pirelli's throat, finishing him off ("Ballad of Sweeney Todd: His Hands Were Quick, His Fingers Strong...").
Across town, Judge Turpin is tormented by his lust for his ward Johanna and announces to her that he intends to marry her ("Johanna" reprise). Disgusted by the prospect, Johanna and Anthony plot an elopement ("Kiss Me"), while at the same time the Beadle, accompanying his master (who has adjourned court after sentencing a child to death for a minor crime), suggests that the Judge visit Todd's barbershop to improve his appearance to better win Johanna's affections ("Ladies in Their Sensitivities"). Turpin agrees and visits Todd's shop, where an eager Todd prepares to exact his revenge ("Pretty Women"). Before he can kill Turpin however, Anthony barges in to tell Todd about his planned elopement with Johanna, accidentally informing the outraged Judge who curses Todd for conspiring against him before storming out of his parlor. Todd, in his fury, descends into utter madness and broadens the target of his vengeance to all of society ("Epiphany"). Mrs. Lovett concludes that Pirelli's body will not be Todd's last victim, and during a discussion with Todd about how to dispose of Pirelli's body has a sudden burst of inspiration and suggests they use the meat of Todd's victims in her pies ("A Little Priest").
Mrs. Lovett's pie-shop has become a thriving business with its new menu ("God, That's Good!"), with enough money to hire Pirelli's old assistant, Tobias; the only fly in the ointment being the Beggar Woman who keeps hanging around the pie-shop. The new system between Todd and Mrs. Lovett and a specially-designed mechanized barber's chair allow Todd to kill someone (preferably a customer who'll never be missed) in his barber shop and send the body through a chute directly into the basement bakehouse of the pie-house. Anthony's fortunes are not so bright as Johanna has disappeared, and over the weeks he searches for her while Todd accustoms himself to the idea that he may never see Johanna again ("Johanna (Quartet)"). Meanwhile, Mrs. Lovett dreams of a future life with Todd on the shore ("By the sea").
Anthony discovers the Judge has committed Johanna to an asylum and with Todd's help infiltrates the asylum as a wigmaker intent on purchasing inmates' hair ("Wigmaker Sequence" and "Ballad of Sweeney Todd: Sweeney Waited Too Long Before..."). Unknown to Anthony, Todd sends a letter to the judge notifying him of Anthony's intent to kidnap Johanna and her professed love for Turpin, hopeful of luring the judge to his shop ("Letter"). Meanwhile in the pie-shop, Tobias begins to suspect that Todd is up to no good ("Not While I'm Around"), and so Mrs. Lovett locks him in the bakehouse under the pretext of teaching him how to grind meat. As she leaves, she encounters the Beadle, commissioned by the neighbors to investigate the thick black smoke and strange smells from the pie-shop's chimney ("Parlor Songs"). Together, he and Mrs. Lovett wait for Todd, who arrives and offers Beadle the promised free shave. In the basement, Tobias is grinding meat when the bloody corpse of the Beadle tumbles down the chute. Horrified, he tries to escape but realizes that he is locked in. Upstairs, Mrs. Lovett informs Todd that Tobias has guessed everything and they head downstairs to dispose of him.
While Todd and Mrs. Lovett search the cellars for Tobias, who has vanished somehow, Anthony infiltrates the Asylum. He draws a pistol on Jonas Fogg, the owner of the asylum, but can't bring himself to shoot and drops the gun. Johanna grabs the gun and shoots Fogg dead, and they both flee to Todd's parlor with Johanna disguised in sailor's clothing. After Anthony leaves Johanna there to chart their escape, the Beggar Woman appears, and Johanna hides. Todd discovers the Beggar Woman in his parlor as she desperately tries to warn him about Mrs. Lovett. As Judge Turpin arrives, Todd frantically slits the Beggar Woman's throat and sends her down the chute before Turpin can see her. When Todd assures him that Johanna is totally repentant, the judge in lecherous expectation asks for a facial. Todd reveals his identity to the judge and slits his throat. As Todd leaves the parlor to kill Tobias, Johanna emerges from her hiding place. Todd catches her and thinking her a man is about to kill her as well when he hears Mrs. Lovett screaming from the bakehouse below. With Todd distracted for a moment, Johanna manages to escape and Todd races downstairs.
In the bakehouse, Mrs. Lovett struggles with the still-living Judge, who finally dies, before becoming distraught at the sight of the dead Beggar Woman. Todd bursts into the bakehouse and seeing the face of the Beggar Woman clearly in the light from the open oven doors, drops his razor in horror as he realizes that she is his wife Lucy, who he believed was dead. Todd furiously accuses Mrs. Lovett of deceiving him. Mrs. Lovett confesses the truth but insists that she never lied, that Lucy had indeed taken poison but it did not kill her; instead, it had driven her insane, and that Mrs. Lovett withheld the truth from Todd in order to spare him and because she loves him. Todd calms the very nervous and afraid Mrs. Lovett and begins to waltz with her, proclaiming his love for her and telling her that he forgives her. He waltzes her over to the huge oven and hurls her inside, slamming the doors shut. Todd sinks to the floor and cradles his beloved wife in his arms. Tobias, now driven completely insane and with his hair turned white from horror, enters and stumbles towards the tractable barber. When the grief-stricken Todd shoves him away, Tobias picks up Todd's fallen razor and fatally slashes Todd's throat. As Anthony, Johanna and some constables burst into the bakehouse, Tobias drops the razor and, unmindful of the others, begins to turn the handle for the meat grinder in a mindless parody of his duties for Mrs. Lovett ("Final Sequence" and "Ballad of Sweeney Todd: Attend the Tale of Sweeney Todd...").
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