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Alternate ending 
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Post Alternate ending
If you could end Sweeney Todd in a different way, how would you do it and why?

Here's how I would do it:

After Todd kills Mrs. Lovett, Toby comes in with the police. Todd willingly turns himself in out of remorse for killing his wife. As they take Todd away, Todd tells Toby that revenge is not the answer and warns him not to make the same mistakes he did. Johanna and Anthony enter, hearing Todd's confession. They agree to take Toby in and comfort him by singing "Not While I'm Around."

I don't like the fact that the show ends with a young boy killing someone and going insane. With my alternate ending, this doesn't happen with Toby. Instead, we end the show with a stronger anti-revenge lesson, a sense of redemption, and the hope of a better future while still keeping the dark mood of the show.

What are your thoughts on my ending?


Sun Aug 10, 2014 8:33 pm
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Post Re: Alternate ending
Todd has to die because it gives the audience an out. That's the rule in melodrama: evil must be defeated even if it's four minutes before the curtain call. Plus, I find it interesting that Tobias becomes the new Sweeney. Little Tobias will no doubt open his own meat pie stand. Or become the next Judge Turpin. The whole world is screwed either way.

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Mon Aug 11, 2014 7:10 am
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Post Re: Alternate ending
If Todd is arrested, he will most likely be executed, so Todd can still die in my version. I don't like the idea of Toby becoming the new Todd or Judge Turpin. Disagree with me if you must, but I think that ending is way too cynical. Even tragic endings need some form of redemption or closure; otherwise, the story feels like nothing but senseless destruction. Call me a cockeyed optimist (wait, wrong musical), but I don't believe that the whole world is screwed either way and don't think that storytellers should be teaching us that lesson.


Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:33 pm
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Post Re: Alternate ending
Didn't Sondheim mention writing an ending where Lovett and the Beadle both die during the Parlor Songs sequence, due to hijinks involving poisoned wine being switched around? I prefer the ending we got by far, but I'd be interested to learn more about that one.


Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:37 pm
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Post Re: Alternate ending
I have a bit of a problem with the idea of editing musicals (or books, or films, or any other art forms) for content/morals in the way you suggest. Yes, the ending of Sweeney Todd is dark, depressing, and morbid, and that's the way it should be, in my view. There are plenty of other musicals with happy endings (including a fair few by Sondheim), so I'd like to let Sweeney, at least, be a fresh ray of grimness amidst all that sunshine.
;)

Seriously, though, the show is a Victorian melodrama and not a morality play. It wasn't written to teach any sort of lesson, but because Sondheim wanted to see if he could scare people with a musical as effectively as filmmakers were doing with slasher movies at the time. And if we were really worried about impressionable viewers picking up bad lessons from Sweeney, I'd think all the scenes with him slicing people's throats would be a much bigger red flag than the structure and morals of the ending would be.

As to the original question, though -- what I'd do if I could change the ending of the show in any way I wanted -- I'd keep it mostly the same, but perhaps have it be more obvious that the Beggar Woman was really Lucy. Sondheim mentioned that audiences often didn't know what was going on in that moment. And I'm not really sure how to "fix" it aside from adding in some really bad, audience-hand-holding lines for Sweeney to say, that viewers would probably hate because they'd feel like they were being talked down to. So yeah... I don't know what I'd do there. I might also adjust the staging in the final ballad to have the Judge, the Beggar Woman, Pirelli, and the Beadle (and possibly other cast members who were killed by Sweeney) emerge from the oven(s) to sing their lines. Some productions may have already done that in the past, but I've not seen any that did. But in terms of the plot, pacing, dialogue, and musical arrangement of the final scene, I wouldn't change a thing.

EDIT: Oh, and 3KidsOr4, I haven't heard about that. I'd be quite interested to know what that was like, as well. It kinda robs Sweeney of that moment of killing Mrs. Lovett after finding out the truth about his wife, though.

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Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:20 am
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Post Re: Alternate ending
Not exactly an alternate ending, more an alternate scene. Quoting Sondheim's book of lyrics, Finishing the Hat, on the "Parlor Songs" sequence:

Quote:
My one regret about the score of Sweeney Todd is that I missed an opportunity to musicalize this scene as [Christopher] Bond had written it, a scene in which Mrs. Lovett tries to poison the Beadle. It was both hilarious and tense, involving as it did the time-ripened routine of switching glasses. "The Tower of Bray" was written for this purpose -- a counting lyric that Mrs. Lovett could use as a drinking song, encouraging the Beadle to knock one back with each verse. She never gets past the first one, however, because the Beadle insists she join him, and she almost poisons herself when she gets distracted by Tobias's voice rising from the cellar. It would have made a nice chaotic trio, but I never got around to it. Still, the moment did allow me the chance to write a couple of twee English folk ballads, poking fun at a genre which is faintly silly without any help from me.


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