September 18 — October 21, 2012
On the U.S. Bank Main Stage
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
A Musical Thriller
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
From an adaptation by Christopher Bond
Directed by Chris Coleman
“A whopping good, grisly yarn of obsession and destruction.” —The New York Times
Widely acknowledged as Stephen Sondheim’s musical masterpiece, Sweeney Todd is set amongst London’s seedy side streets and laced with Sondheim’s characteristically brilliant wit and dark humor.
This landmark musical depicts the barber Sweeney Todd’s savage quest for justice and retribution after years of false imprisonment. Aided by harridan pie shop owner Mrs. Lovett, who is secretly in love with him, he sets out to avenge the wrongs done to him and his family. Combining comic turns and chilling drama, music hall-style numbers and hauntingly beautiful romantic songs, Sweeney Todd offers a fascinating portrait of a man driven to madness by injustice.
Tuesday - Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Thursday matinees at noon
A full list of performances and dates will appear when you enter the ticketing section of the website.
Sweeney Todd runs approximately two hours and 40 minutes with one intermission.
View the cast and creative team bios.
View the playbill for Sweeney Todd.
Learn more about accessibility options at PCS.
Reviews and Features
Marty Hughley | The Oregonian [Review 26 Sep 2012]
On Friday night at Portland Center Stage, if you were hungry after the performance, you could have a fitting little snack at the opening-night reception in the lobby: meat pies.read more
Rebecca Jacobson | Willamette Week [Review 26 Sep 2012]
House lights still on, a rags-clad crowd shuffles about the stage, looking forlorn and doing little. Suddenly, two actors dressed as riot police storm the stage and haul off one of the men, exiting without explanation. The lights dim and the orchestra begins.
It’s an ambiguous introduction. Is this London, the setting for Sweeney Todd, or are we in Lownsdale Square, one of the Portland parks claimed by Occupy protesters last year? Has director Chris Coleman converted Stephen Sondheim’s macabre musical into contemporary political commentary?
Not really. Though Coleman places some emphasis on Sweeney Todd’s class struggles, those riot police are the only transparent contemporary reference. Otherwise, this Portland Center Stage production serves the play straight, dishing up plenty of grisly mayhem and a fair bit of gore but stopping short of wild melodrama.read more
Gigi Little | Ut Omnia Bene Blog [Review 25 Sep 2012]
Sweeney Todd is a hard, hard musical to do. I don’t say this from experience, of course, but it’s a lot of show - particularly when it comes to the music. Dense, fast-paced and full of crazy harmonies and counterpoint. It’s the complicated stuff that’s my favorite in Sweeney Todd, and the ensemble cast pulled it off with relish.read more
Aaron Scott | Portland Monthly [Review 25 Sep 2012]
Portland Center Stage’s Sweeney Todd opens on a homeless camp of folding chairs, burn barrels, and police arrests, immediately peppering a contemporary twist onto the grisly centuries-old tale of haves and have nots. But before I could even consider the question of recession fatigue, the ensemble’s voices rose like a coven of banshees into the chorus of “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” and the set and lights came alive with such sinister, artful flourish that I was immediately reduced to blob of quivering flesh in my cushion. And that was just the opening song.
Widely considered one of the greatest musicals of all time (see our preview and slideshow), Stephen Sondheim’s tale of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street reached a mass audience via the Tim Burton movie starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter that, frankly, butchered the show. Depp and Bonham were no match for the nigh operatic abilities Sondheim’s music called for, and Burton’s stylized production in general killed the rich, dark humor that’s the lifeblood of the play. Which only made Portland Center Stage’s production all the more thrilling. Not only was it one of the best musicals I’ve seen in town, but it was actually better than most things I’ve seen on Broadway.
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05 October 2012 & Posted by KatieO
Kicking off the 25th anniversary season at PCS, we opened with Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Our own Chris Coleman directs the Sondheim classic, now playing through October 21 on the Main Stage. Sweeney provides a chilling, humorous and—let’s not forget—musical look into the “great black pit” that was London during the Industrial Revolution. Corrupt judges, sheisty business men and looney homeless broads fill the streets and one cannot help but root for the murderous barber while he plots his revenge against those who have wronged him.More
04 October 2012 & Posted by Kinsley Suer
For many years, historians have debated whether the fictional Sweeney Todd was inspired by a real serial killer. According to some accounts, a barber named Todd, who set up shop in Fleet Street during the late 1700s, murdered dozens of his customers and was hanged for his crimes in 1802. Over time, the story of Sweeney Todd was told and re-told. Within British culture, he became a favorite bogeyman, not unlike Jack the Ripper. But perhaps it was Sweeney Todd’s various literary incarnations that fully and permanently cemented the legend’s enduring legacy.More
03 October 2012 & Posted by JamesD
Portland Center Stage recently launched our first “Meet the Department” event for our donors and staff. Members of the lighting and sound departments spoke about their roles at the theater and showed the group some fascinating examples of how things came together for our production of Sweeney Todd.More