Audio clip: No Place Like London. Requires RealAudio
The Beggar Woman is original to the Christopher Bond play, though she may have some roots in earlier versions of the legend. In the Dibdin-Pitt melodrama, there is a minor character named Mrs. Oakley who is Johanna's mother. While Mr. Oakley, Johanna's father, helps bring about Sweeney's downfall, Mrs. Oakley is more of a device to show how effective Dr. Lupin has been in fooling his neighbors into thinking he is a decent, upstanding man. Another minor female character in the Dibdin-Pitt play is Mrs. Poorlean, who is a serving wench in the prison where Sweeney is briefly incarcerated. She is described in the credits as being "an unfortunate woman." Her misfortune seems to be that she has lost two husbands and enjoys the attentions of the degenerate Dr. Lupin.
In the Bond play, the Beggar Woman is a mysterious oracle whose warnings herald the dark intrigues of the pie shop. And the revelation of her true identity brings about the climactic transformation of Sweeney Todd at the end of the play.
Victoria Clark is an actor, teacher and director. She has appeared on Broadway as Fraulein Kost in Cabaret, Smitty in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Vicki in A Grand Night for Singing. Ms. Clark created the role of Alice Beane in the Tony Award-winning musical Titanic; she has also appeared on Broadway in Drood, in Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George and in the national tours of Cats and Les Miserables. Ms. Clark has appeared on television's Law and Order and in Tim Robbins's Cradle Will Rock. Her voice can be heard on the soundtracks of several animated movies, including Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Alladin, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Anastasia, and she has recurring roles on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion for Minnesota Public Radio.
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