Sweeney Todd: Review, Pics, Pie Recipe


Tooting Arts Club’s exceptionally entertaining production of Sweeney Todd, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s glorious murderous musical, began in 2014 in Harrington’s, one of London’s oldest working pie shops. An impressively detailed replica of Harrington’s has now set up shop Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theater, including the pies…

The Barrow Street Theater, transformed into a pie shop. Audience members eating their pie -- and cast members hanging out -- before Sweeney Todd begins.
The Barrow Street Theater, transformed into a pie shop. Audience members eating their pie — and cast members hanging out — before Sweeney Todd begins.


For an extra $20, theatergoers can dine on meat pies (or, if they insist, vegetable pies) baked by President Obama’s White House pastry chef Bill Yosses, served with a side of the most tasty mashed potatoes you will ever eat, along with a green herb sauce known as liquor.

The meat in the pies is chicken, for those wondering. Here’s the recipe.

Once the picnic-style tables are cleared of the pre-show plates, the tale of Sweeney Todd can begin, the intimate staging adding something new to the clever retelling of the demon barber of Fleet Street, who slashes the throats of his victims, and the loving Mrs. Lovett downstairs, the enterprising shopkeeper who makes pies out of the corpses, legal ingredients being so expensive these days.

The eight-member cast frequently performs atop the tables inches from the audience, or sits alongside us on the benches. In one memorable moment, Jeremy Secomb as Sweeney Todd stuck his hardened face right up against a theatergoer sitting at the end of one of the benches, and barked: “Move.” The man scooted over, so that Sweeney would have room on the bench right next to him to strangle the beggar woman. One could argue that we are thus uncommonly (and uncomfortably) confronted with the gore, as well as  implicated in it, but the effect is actually more fun than scary.  (Director Bill Buckhurst stages the on-stage killings in a stylized if not downright stylish manner, the actors freezing and bathed in red light.)

Secomb as Sweeney Todd and Siobhán McCarthy as Mrs. Lovett are two of the four holdovers from the London production, and their simultaneously chilling and hilarious performances are reason enough to make this a must-see show. I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the musical moment when McCarthy suggests what Sweeney can do with the bodies:

Think of it as thrift

As a gift …
If you get my drift

The other four cast members are welcome additions for the New York transfer. Matt Doyle, the swoon-worthy young veteran of such Broadway hits as War Horse, The Book of Mormon and Spring Awakening, portrays the aptly-named Anthony Hope, who rescued Sweeney after the barber escaped his wrongful imprisonment at the hands of the lecherous Judge Tupin (Duncan Smith, another terrific holdover from London.) Anthony falls in love with Johanna (the lovely Alex Finke, who portrayed Cosette in the recent Broadway revival of Les Miz), who is Sweeney’s long-lost daughter.

Brad Oscar, the DC-born actor who was so hilarious as Nostradamus in Something Rotten, is sufficiently insufferable as the Beadle, though there is a wink in the performance.

The music for Sweeney Todd is provided by a three-piece band, but that’s plenty sufficient in the small space of the 130-seat  “pie shop” (which as a normal theater seats 200.)

Barrow Street Theater is in the century-old Greenwich House Settlement House, which only began offering quality theater two decades ago with Gross Indecency: The Trials of Oscar Wilde, written and directed by Moises Kaufman, a production that more or less launched his career, and that of the theater itself.

This production of Sweeney Todd somehow feels just as seminal

Sweeney Todd is on stage at the Barrow Street Theatre (27 Barrow Street at 7th Avenue South in the Village, New York, N.Y. 10014) through August 13, 2017
Tickets and details


Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street . Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler, from an adapation by Christopher Bond. Directed by Bill Buckhurst, set and costume design by Simon Kenny, music supervision and arrangement by Benjamin Cox, choreography by Georgina Lamb, lighting design by Amy Mae, sound design by Matt Stine,  pie making by Bill Yosses, music director and piano by Matt Aument, violin by Tomoko Akaboshi, clarinet by Michael Favreau. Featuring Jeremy Secomb as Sweeney Todd, Siobhán McCarthy as Mrs. Lovett, Matt Doyle as Anthony Hope, Alex Finke as Johanna Barker, Betsy Morgan as beggar woman/Adolfo Pierelli, Brad Oscar as Beadle Bamford, Duncan Smith as Judge Turpin, Joseph Taylor as Tobias Ragg. Reviewed by Jonathan Mandell.

Click on any of the photographs by Joan Marcus to see them enlarged.

Truffle Chicken Pot Pie From ‘Sweeney Todd’
Two methods


First Method
Pie crust

3 cups flour

2 tsp salt

10 oz butter

3 oz cold water

Method: Cut butter into small pea-size pieces and place in freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place flour and salt in standing electric mixer and mix on slow speed with paddle attachment. Add the butter slowly, taking care that is does not jump out of the bowl. Mix loosely and then add cold water down the side of the bowl with mixer on slow, until the dough comes together. Remove from bowl and work into a ball with floured hands, then push down to a disk, wrap with plastic film and refrigerate for 2 hours. Roll out on a floured surface to ¼-inch thickness and then place in a pie dish, crimping the edges. Cut away excess and add to remaining pie dough, re-roll to a ¼-inch thickness into a circle for the top.


2 chicken legs and thighs, deboned

2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small dice

1 celery, chopped into small dice

1 vidalia onion, chopped into small dice

12 button mushrooms, sliced thin, or chanterelles if available

Method: Bring 3 quarts water to a boil and add chopped vegetables, except the mushrooms, to the water and cook lightly, about 3 minutes. Then add the chicken meat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove chicken, cool and chop into half-inch dice. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and skim the fat off the top of the liquid. Boil the cooking liquid for 30 minutes to reduce the stock and when it is down to one quart of liquid, add 2 tablespoons of corn starch dissolved in cold water. Stir continuously with a whisk, bringing it back to the boil until the liquid thickens.

Strain and cool. Mix together the vegetables, chicken and mushrooms and moisten with the reduced chicken stock until it is like a thick ragout.

Prepare the pie: Prebake the bottom pie shell lined with aluminum foil at 350F for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and fill with the chicken vegetable mixture. Prepare an egg wash — two eggs and pinch salt — then brush the edges and cover with the dough circle, pressing firmly to seal the edge. Poke the surface several times with a fork to make air vents and then paint with egg wash. Bake in a 350F oven for 40 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling. Serve warm.

Second Method

Buy the pie at Barrow Street Theatre for the pre-show meal.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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