Sweeney Todd Play Overview

The version we will watch is the Broadway touring production. It stars Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett. She originated the role on Broadway. Sweeney is played by two-time Tony Award winner George Hearn who was the first replacement in the role originated by Len Cariou.  Link: https://www.bilibili.com/video/BV13J411u7zA/ Consider the following statement from the Flagstaff Light Opera Company’s study guide** for Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. “As an audience, we are asked to side with Mr. Todd. His actions stem from the love he once felt for his wife and the love he still feels for his daughter. With criminal activity commonplace and general immorality the norm on the streets of Victorian England, one can almost forgive the revolting act of murdering the wealthy and serving them back to their colleagues in meat pies. It almost seems a natural conclusion for someone so wrongly done, by a system he cannot possibly change through just means. Since society around him is so unjust and corrupt (the very man he seeks to destroy is a law-breaking, greedy judge), Sweeney is left with no choice but to resort to the skills, tools and resources his profession has afforded him. Sweeney Todd uses his very work (a fitting device as a member of the lower, working class) to seek justice upon someone who is so without justice or fairness (and ironically, a respected civic judge).”  Assignment: Please write a two-to-three page reaction essay to address the question below.  The essay must include certain ideas as explained below. Question: Did you, in fact, find yourself siding with Sweeney as you watched the play? Why or why not?  Be sure to address the following in your answer: Is what Sweeney did justice as stated in the quote above? Was it merely revenge? Both? Was there any mercy shown in the play at all?  How did the play address issues of hope and despair? You also must reference the readings from this week to bolster your arguments.  Consider the following before answering the question: Siding with Sweeney does not necessarily mean you approve of his actions or justify them morally, it could only mean you were hoping he would succeed in killing the judge and the beadle.  In fact, using the word “side” might be problematic. It implies that you align with, or approve of, Sweeney’s actions. If it will help with your essay, you can think in terms of Sweeney being the protagonist or main character of the play.  _________________ Remember to put play titles in italics. Please don’t make an assertion without justification or evidence.  Defend your reaction. Show me WHY you formed the conclusions you did.   Please cite any outside sources including the readings. Any citation method is fine, including informal citations.

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