VINTAGE PLAYBILL: Sweeney Todd, Opening Night 1979

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01 Mar 2013

On this date 34 years ago, Sweeney Todd made its world premiere at Broadway's Uris (now Gershwin) Theatre.

The new musical opened March 1, 1979, starring Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou, who would both go on to win Tony Awards for their performances. Supporting cast members included Victor Garber as Anthony, Sarah Rice as Johanna and Ken Jennings as Tobias.

In his New York Times review, Richard Eder offered a qualified rave, celebrating "a powerful, coruscating" book and score tempered by a 'confusion of purpose.'"

"These are defects; vital ones," he concluded, "but they are the failures of an extraordinary, fascinating, and often ravishingly lovely effort."

The production dominated the 1979 Tony Awards with eight wins, including honors for Stephen Sondheim's score, Hugh Wheeler's book, and Harold Prince's direction. 



The musical has since returned to Broadway in a 1989 revival starring Beth Fowler and Bob Gunton and a 2005 revival starring Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris. 

See the opening night Playbill, featuring an author's note on Sweeney Todd's origins, in the Vault.