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The following is an post by our guest contributor Eric Kang - a talented Composer and also Musical Director.

The Worst Pies in London, and the ultimate Fate the Mrs. Lovett

There are few roles as facility and an overwhelming to perform as the diabolical pastry chief of Fleet Street in Stephen Sondheim"s SWEENEY TODD / SWEENEY TODD school EDITION. In addition to singing a great bit of the score-much of it in patter song and every one of it just about most women"s breaks-she plays throughout the display the functions of narrator and catalyst, lover and also mother. Mrs. Lovett knows a good deal much more than Mr. Todd because that the whole duration of the play, and also thus is almost in control of his destiny (though she might not understand it).While the title character is there is no a doubt important, the shaping and also characterization of his dotty accomplice is absolutely an important to the central drama and also to the life that the musical. Prior to you store reading, here"s a fast low-down the the plot, covering just the essential stuff to Mr. Todd"s and also Mrs. Lovett"s storylines. Significant SPOILER ALERT.Todd was imprisoned unjustly, leave his wife and daughter in ~ the mercy that an evil judge. Twenty-some-odd years later he return to London to precise his revenge, and also finds his old neighbor Mrs. Lovett, who notifies him that his wife had poisoned herself. Todd, persuaded his mam is dead, and Mrs. Lovett ultimately concoct a plot to lure the referee to his barber shop, which doubles together a caterer of fresh meat to Mrs. Lovett"s pie shop (guess how). Though Todd ultimately manages to kill the referee in his barbershop, through numerous complications he additionally mistakenly kills a beggar woman, who transforms out to it is in his wife-it transforms out she did take it the poison but it made her insane. Todd accuses Mrs. Lovett of lying come him, Mrs. Lovett protests the she just did it since she loves him, and Todd kills she by throwing she in the oven.Whew.So our very first glimpse that Mrs. Lovett is in she pie shop; before she sings a keep in mind of she signature song, "The Worst Pies in London," the stage directions give us an instant characterization:MRS. LOVETT, a vigorous, slatternly mrs in her forties, is flicking flies off the trays of pies through a dirty rag together she sings or hums. ...

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Seeing the pie-shop the pauses a moment at part distance, gazing at it and at MRS. LOVETT, who has actually now choose up a wicked-looking knife and also starts chopping suet. ...MRS. LOVETT go not an alert him until his shadow passes across her. She looks up, knife in air, and also screams, freeze him in his tracks.She"s lively, confusing (in terms of her cooking, and therefore in all various other matters), and also not without part madness to she method-she is in fact so engrossed in her an approach that she does not even notification Mr. Todd"s existence until he is nearly on height of her.Why does she scream? Is she really that surprised to check out a client in she shop? rather possibly, actually. But she might have also immediately well-known the ghost of Benjamin Barker-the man (we later discover out) who used to live over her shop and also who was the thing of Mrs. Lovett"s desire-and all this she consist of up v her following line: "A customer!"This decision could seem inconsequential in ~ the moment, but is actually carefully tied to vital and fundamental questions about the play. Is she on purpose manipulating Todd? Is her downfall resulted in by calculating and also conniving, or haphazardly last-minute thinking? In the end, go she gain what she deserves, or is her death the biggest tragedy the the play?

SWEENEY TODD school EDITION Sizzle Reel (International Thespian Festival 2008):

But we digress-more ~ above this later. Back to the song!Post-scream, Mrs. Lovett launches right into a nervous, bubbling patter:Wait! What"s yer rush? What"s yer hurry?You gave me together a -Fright. I assumed you to be a ghost.

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Half a minute, can"tcher?Sit! Sit ye down!Sit!All I expected is the IHaven"t seen a customer for weeks.Within 4 bars the music, Mrs. Lovett has taken four steps in her thought process:§ Wait, don"t go!§ I thought you to be a ghost! (You look at so lot like Benjamin Barker...)§ Don"t go, sit down and also stay!§ It"s to be such a long time because anyone"s called! (I mean, no i don"t recognize you! you can"t understand that I know who friend are!)This tune moves so ridiculously fast, that is essential that the actor have actually a razor-sharp trajectory in order to connect her think as plainly as possible. This track (and Mrs. Lovett in ~ large) is incredibly funny when her charming add comes through! that is thus imperative that the performer really understands each and every line, and their paper definition in the in its entirety arc."Customer" instantly triggers "give that a pie" ("Do forgive me if me head"s a small vague"... She does recognize herself!), which is adhered to by distraction indigenous a pest she decides to kill as she make the efforts to number out why nobody visits she shop- This is all to say the she is an extremely quick (if conveniently distracted) thinker, and also it is the performer"s task to make feeling of her jarbled text. A an excellent approach is to take the text as right prose (don"t look in ~ the score simply yet) and also paraphrase each different thought with subtext. Stringing them earlier together gives you a roadmap that have the right to look something favor this:
Did you come right here for a pie, sir?Do forgive me if me head"s a little vague -Ugh!What is that?But you"d think we had the torment -From the way that people -Keep staying clear of -No friend don"t!Heaven knows i try, sir!Ick!But there"s no one comes in even to inhale -Tsk!Right friend are, sir. Would certainly you favor a autumn of ale?Customer = he requirements a pie!Yikes I have to seem entirely scatter-brained-THERE"S A bug ON THE PIEPick it turn off (pretend that didn"t notice)It"s yes, really a good establishmentI have no idea why human being don"t come in hereTHE BUG"S on THE TABLEKILL THE BUG(pretend that didn"t notice) I job-related hard-BUG on HAND GROSS-and tho nobody access time me!But am ns doing, blathering on??You"re a customer, you require a drink!
(If you believe that Mrs. Lovett is a total man-eater, climate this totality stanza-indeed the entirety song, and much of her interactions v Todd-can it is in done as a ruse, putting on a display so that doesn"t doubt a thing!)