The Resource For Musicals



Sweeney Todd Forum


Reply to topic  [ 15 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Sweeney and Shakespeare 
Author Message
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:43 pm
Posts: 3365
Location: <310
Post Sweeney and Shakespeare
So the Hamlet topic inspired this.

Whenever somebody asks me what Sweeney Todd is ("What is Urinetown" ;-) hehe). If they want the short answer, I say: "Stephen Sondheim is the Shakespeare of musical theatre and Sweeney Todd is his Hamlet". Hamlet is the play about everything and so is Sweeney.

So essentially (i.e. back on topic) I feel that Sondheim has pulled from two of my favorite Shakespearean tragedies: Hamlet and M*cbeth.

Hamlet-parallels the theme of revenge in Sweeney. Sweeney=Hamlet, Turpin=Claudius, Lucy/Johanna=King Hamlet. I also feel like Lucy is a bit of an Ophelia, but not really.

M*cbeth-paralells the theme of murder in order to move up in the food chain. In this case, Mrs. Lovett is Lady M and Sweeney is Lord M. And Turpin is Duncan (or whoever was the king M wanted to kill... i forget).

Thoughts?


Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:49 pm
Profile WWW
Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
User avatar

Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:26 am
Posts: 1147
Location: Australia
Current Obsession: next to normal
Post 
Quote:
I feel that Sondheim has pulled from two of my favorite Shakespearean tragedies: Hamlet and M*cbeth.


How much of it was really Sondheim?


Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:02 am
Profile
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:43 pm
Posts: 3365
Location: <310
Post 
In one sense, none of it (actually, now that i think of it, Bond may have been influenced by Shakespeare), and in another sense all of it.


Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:10 am
Profile WWW
Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2002 11:23 pm
Posts: 992
Post Mrs. Lovett= Lady Macbeth!
Dear what_the_heck013,

SPOILER ALERT!

It's funny that you should post about the "Sweeney Todd"/ Shakespeare topic, because I was just about to post a message about how Mrs. Lovett is a lot like Lady Macbeth.

Mrs. Lovett's obsession with Sweeney is very much like Lady Macbeth's obsession with Macbeth. Mrs. Lovett's willingness to participate in Sweeney Todd's murderous exploits isn't quite like Lady Macbeth's blatent suggestion of murder, but, in a vague way, it is slightly like that suggestion of murder, because, after all, Mrs. Lovett provides Sweeney Todd with the perfect murder weapons. Mrs. Lovett's determination to get rid of Lucy vaguely reminds me of the scene wherein Lady Macduff is killed. Finally, Mrs. Lovett's ability to turn right around and look so innocent is reminiscent of Lady Macbeth's innocent act.

In some ways, Sweeney Todd is Macbeth, except that his murderous desires are driven by a deep need for revenge, while Macbeth essentially kills for fame, and for the somewhat seductive approval of his wife.

Sweeney Todd's sudden, almost surprising death echos Macbeth's own death. Macbeth doesn't know that the man who is about to kill him wasn't delivered naturally/ wasn't literally "of woman BORN." Likewise, Sweneey Todd never suspects that he will be killed by Toby before he's even had a chance to really grieve for Lucy.

Thanks in advance for your reply.
8)

_________________
Till Next Time,
The Duchess of Mint
(The Original Lone Wolf)
OPINION: Mitt Romney is "that wicked plastic man!"


Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:25 am
Profile
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:43 pm
Posts: 3365
Location: <310
Post 
Duchess of Mint, that's exactly along the lines of what I was thinking.


Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:20 am
Profile WWW
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jan 06, 2007 5:46 pm
Posts: 2868
Location: Brigadoon
Post 
I agree with you Jaymie...except in the fact that Sweeney Todd is hilariously funny and Hamlet really isn't...the Scottish play has the Porter for comic relief but that's it...

_________________
Image


Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:30 pm
Profile
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:43 pm
Posts: 3365
Location: <310
Post 
Well, Hamlet does have comic relief here and there (THE GRAVE DIGGER! Actually, I've said this before and I'll say it again. See the Kenneth Branagh film version of Hamlet. Billy Crystal plays a cameo as the grave digger. Robin Williams also has a very fun comic relief part too). But I agree that Hamlet does not have Sweeney's dark humor (which drew me in to the show in the first place).


Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:48 pm
Profile WWW
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
User avatar

Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2003 11:07 pm
Posts: 11297
Main Role: Performer
Post 
Hamlet himself has some great one liners.

_________________
Image[/quote]


Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:51 am
Profile WWW
Chorus Member
Chorus Member
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:16 am
Posts: 96
Location: Tennessee
Post 
I concur here. Hamlet has some very funny stuff! The 'fishmonger' scene with Hamlet and Polonius is meant to be a comic scene... and Polonius himself has some of the best comedy in the show, aside perhaps from the Gravediggers.

As to the Hamlet-Sweeney connection, it's sort of fitting that it should pop up here, because I just last week had a conversation with my Sweeney about that very thing. The Macbeth connection is there as well, as 'My Friends' is a perfect "is this a dagger..." parallel... but let's not forget these pivotal moments:

In Act III, scene 3 of Hamlet, Hamlet has the opportunity to kill Claudius, while he is at prayer, but decides to wait. Similarly, Sweeney decides that "revenge can't be taken in haste" and misses his opportunity to kill Judge Turpin. And just like in Hamlet, it proves to be the turning point for the character.

In Act IV, Hamlet is exiled to England, and enroute delivers a wonderful soliloquy in which he declares "O, from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody, or of nothing made" ... this is Hamlet's 'Epiphany', and indeed, he takes the first opportunity to sign Rosencrantz & Guildenstern's death warrant as he abandons them, and the body count begins.

It's not a direct parallel, by any stretch, but these two pivotal moments resonate very clearly in Sweeney Todd, to me. Like Hamlet, Sweeney Todd's every move is carefully calculated until he is forced to kill, and once his rage is unleashed, he loses touch with those closest to him. By the time Claudius dies, Hamlet has lost Ophelia, his mother Gertrude, two friends from school, not to mention Ophelia's brother and father, Laertes and Polonius. Like Hamlet, Sweeney Todd's revenge is only complete after he has truly lost everything else.


Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:53 am
Profile
Chorus Member
Chorus Member
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2008 6:44 pm
Posts: 61
Post 
It is interesting to see this thread show up. We had to read Hamlet for Summer reading for my Senior English class, and we actually got into a minor discussion about Sweeney parallels in there. Of course, long after we stopped the brief discussion, it was still going on in my mind, making connections between the two works. It is quite interesting how similar they are in a lot of ways.


Wed Sep 17, 2008 6:33 pm
Profile
Off-Broadway Lead
Off-Broadway Lead
User avatar

Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 9:21 am
Posts: 205
Location: Middle Europe
Post 
And not only Shakespeare, it learnt a lot from the classic Greek tragedy.

Dagger monologue and My friends: yay! Really!

Just to scare you superstitious people:

MACBETH
rocks.

_________________
Image
...and I can go to slay that wannabe Johnny Depp.


Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:43 am
Profile YIM WWW
Chorus Member
Chorus Member
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2004 6:46 pm
Posts: 93
Location: IN
Post 
It's been ages since I've been on this forum; how wonderful to find such an interesting post.

_________________
Kill Johnny.


Tue Oct 14, 2008 9:53 am
Profile YIM
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 15 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.