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There is a powerful moment on the original cast recording of Stephen Sondheim and also Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber that Fleet Street. At the finish of his song “My Friends”, Len Cariou, the actor play Sweeney Todd, lifts his razor and says “At last, my eight is complete again.” This is the line as he claimed it in the show’s original run at the Uris Theatre in 1979, together well. (you deserve to watch the whole thing ~ above YouTube). This is not, however, the line as it was originally written. In the script, Sweeney says just “My ideal arm is finish again.”

The explanation for the distinction is a simple one. Len Cariou to be a lefty. He held the razor aloft in his left hand, which supposed that Sondheim rewrote the line, removing words “right”, which, according to Sondheim “effectively takes the power out the the line.” Coming together it does in between the tune “My Friends” and the first reprise of “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” this heat has regulated to do its means onto every record of Sweeney. Together it happens, Cariou’s replacement on Broadway, George Hearn, was additionally a southpaw. Hollywood’s Sweeney, Johnny Depp, and Michael Ball, who played Sweeney in a 2012 rebirth on the West End, likewise cut the “right” indigenous the line. (Although questioning the internet whether Johnny Depp is left handed and also you will acquire only confusion in return).

You are watching: At last my arm is complete again

I’ve become increasingly obsessed v Sweeney Todd’s completed appropriate arm in the last numerous months. I check out an echo, in this arm, of william Shakespeare’s tragic protagonist Titus Andronicus, a murderous revenger that bakes his adversaries into a pie and feeds them to their mother. Andronicus, you’ll probably remember, is tricked right into cutting turn off his own hand in order to conserve his sons’ stays – an activity whose only effect is the behanding itself.

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The is as if Sweeney is Andronicus come ago from the dead, and as if Sweeney’s razors somehow revitalized the arm of Shakespeare’s old Roman.

Today I want to talk around this eight of Sweeney’s and what dismemberment might mean in Sweeney Todd. I am going to do an debate that web links revenge and also dismemberment the is going to evolve into an argument about the pleasures of the town hall violence and witnessing dismemberment the I believe are at occupational for Sweeney Todd’s audiences.

Revenge, together it is because that Titus Andronicus, is the driving force behind the plot of Sweeney Todd, however for what precisely is Sweeney getting vengeance? What justifies Sweeney’s violence and enables the audience to take it pleasure in the vengeance the enacts?