Audio clip: Johanna. Requires RealAudio
Originally called Mark Ingestrie in Prest's String of Pearls, Anthony Hope is the hero of the play and Johanna's true love. In early dreadfuls, Mark Ingestrie is a mariner five years at sea. He returns with a valuable necklace, which Sweeney covets and (apparently) kills for. Once Ingestrie disappears over the back of Sweeney's trick barber chair, the main story is set into action, with Johanna hot on the trail of her missing lover, and other minor-heroes continually on the brink of uncovering the evil deeds of the demon barber. As in all melodramas, the romantic hero is indestructible. After three seemingly catastrophic confrontations with the razor-wielding barber (one in each act), Mark Ingestrie reappears alive and well in the final scene of the play. Right is restored, Sweeney Todd is disposed of and the lovers are reunited. A happy ending for all.
Bond makes his hero more complex. Anthony Hope is still a sailor, but he is no longer Sweeney's adversary. He is a sympathetic friend to the barber, helping him to re-establish his life and grooming trade. And even though he catches glimpses of Sweeney's darker side, he is never fully aware of the barber's deadly rampage. Likewise, Sweeney does not view Anthony Hope as a threat. Unlike earlier penny dreadfuls, the barber never tries to get the sailor into his terrible chair. Anthony's main concern is outmaneuvering the crooked Beadle and the conniving Judge Turpin so that he can be with Johanna. Sweeney and Anthony even devise a plan together to rescue Johanna from Jonas Fogg's asylum. Ultimately, it is Anthony who breaks the news to his love about who her father is and, out of respect for Sweeney, insists that the two of them pay a call on the barbershop to ask for his blessing on their marriage.
Davis Gaines has portrayed Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd in San Francisco, Los Angeles, London and New York. He performed the title role in The Phantom of the Opera in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, where he received the Bay Area Critics' Award for Best Actor. He was chosen by Hal Prince and Andrew Lloyd Webber to play the leading role in the world premiere of Whistle Down the Wind in Washington DC. He appeared in two Great Performances broadcasts (as soloist with the Boston Pops and in Jerry Herman's Broadway at the Bowl) as well as the 1994 Kennedy Center Honors and the opening ceremony of the 1998 Goodwill Games. Davis Gaines can be heard on twenty-one cast and compilation albums and on the solo CDs Against the Tide and All My Tomorrows: Songs of Sammy Cahn. Visit Davis Gaines on the world wide web at www.davisgaines.com
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