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Penny Dreadful: From True Crime to FictionThe Madding Crowd: 18th Century LondonBloodletting: Barber Surgeons and Early MedicineThe Play's the Thing: From Melodrama to Musical
IV
A String of Pearls
Sweeney Todd
Mrs. Lovett
Tobias Ragg
Johanna
Judge Turpin
The Beadle
Anthony Hope
Adolfo Pirelli
Beggar Woman
Stephen Sondheim
San Francisco Symphony
Ellen M. Krass Productions
Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Concert
Johanna
Click for RealAudio Audio clip: Green Finch and Linnet Bird. Requires RealAudio

The heroine and fiancée of the sailor in Prest's String of Pearls, Johanna originally had no relation to Sweeney Todd other than circumstance. Nevertheless, through all the retellings over the years, Johanna has consistently been portrayed as an intelligent, strong-minded and courageous girl. In most versions of the story, she sets out on her own to find her missing lover, hiding her true identity, eavesdropping and digging up clues. In some early penny dreadfuls, Johanna, disguised as a boy, is even hired by Sweeney to be his apprentice after Tobias has been packed off to the asylum.

Christopher Bond strengthens the relationship between Johanna and Sweeney Todd, making her his long-lost daughter, though she is not aware of their relationship until the final moments of the play. Imprisoned in the house of the disgusting Judge Turpin, her self-appointed guardian, she refuses the old man's overtures of marriage and pursues, with characteristic single-mindedness, her true love, Anthony Hope. When the despicable Beadle locks her up in the lunatic asylum, she is the one who shoots Jonas Fogg, enabling her and her lover to escape. Though she is no damsel-in-distress, it is important to note that Bond unravels the plot in such a way that Johanna is never fully aware of Sweeney's heinous crimes.

Lisa Vroman

Photo of Lisa VromanLisa Vroman, currently starring on Broadway as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, garnered Theater Critics Awards in that role in a record-setting San Francisco run. She was the guest star of the PBS special Hey, Mr. Producer!, the London Royal Gala Benefit honoring Sir Cameron Mackintosh. Her Broadway debut was in Aspects of Love, and she was the first to play both Fantine and Cosette in Les Miserables. At the American Concervatory Theatre she appeared in The Threepenny Opera. She has performed with the Greater Miami Opera, Lake George Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera. Ms. Vroman's appearances with orchestras include the Chicago, Phoenix, and Detroit symphonies, with a repertory ranging from Broadway to Stravinsky. She made her San Francisco Symphony debut in the 1996 American Festival and has performed in SFS holiday concerts, Summer in the City performances, and the 1999 Stravinsky Festival. Ms. Vroman can be heard on CD with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra in Music by Debussy, and on Christmas Center Stage, a benefit for pediatric AIDS in the Bay Area. She is the recipient of a George London Competition Grant and Potsdam State University Alumni Association's 1999 Minerva award. She recently released her first solo CD, Broadway Classic, featuring an all Bay Area symphony orchestra.

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Home  -  I. Penny Dreadful  -  II. The Madding Crowd  -  III. Bloodletting
IV. The Play's the Thing  -  Recipes


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