LOS ANGELES: Michael Paull, president of Disney Streaming, today announced ambitious plans for an animated series based on Sweeney Todd, the 1979 musical about a murderous barber by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. An initial order of 10 episodes, to be helmed by Owl House and Gravity Falls creator Dana Terrace, is aimed for a February 2023 release on Disney+.
“The resurgence of musicals on film and streaming platforms made this an obvious choice,” said Paull in a statement. “And with the continuing popularity of horror, the show’s creators made the pitch that the mix of music, social commentary, and arterial spray that characterizes Sweeney Todd makes it an ideal combination for today’s audiences.”
Details were mostly under wraps, but initial reports indicate that each of the 10 episodes will follow a different character through the squalor and hypocrisy of Victorian London, culminating with their gruesome execution by razor in the barber chair of the title character, and their subsequent baking into a meat pie by Mrs. Lovett. The frozen-food giant Stouffer’s has signed on to sell limited-edition single-serving treats, “Lovett’s Savories,” keyed to the series’ characters and themes.
Though Sondheim’s original score will not be used in the series, it will be the basis of new songs by a rotating stable of songwriters, including Dear Evan Hansen’s Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Waitress’s Sara Bareilles, and Come From Away’s David Hein and Irene Sankoff.
“I have been inspired by the work of Stephen Sondheim throughout my career as a storyteller,” said lead animator Dana Terrace in a statement. “I am so honored to be able to carry on his legacy through this new animated series, which will not shy away from the darkest truths of human suffering and depravity, but instead shape them into bite-sized 23-minute ‘snacks’ you can stream on any device.”
Sources close to the company tell us that before his death last fall, Sondheim was in talks with Disney+ about a variety of projects, including a competitive reality show based on Assassins and a Muppets adaptation of Passion.
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