Act 1, Part 1
The year is 1846. A young sailor named Anthony Hope rides a ship into London, full of joy about his return home; conversely, the aloof Sweeney Todd, whom Anthony recently rescued during a storm at sea, is grim and uneasy. On land, Todd's mood is worsened by a half-mad Beggar Woman who sexually solicits both Anthony and Todd, and appears to recognize Todd ("No Place Like London").
Before the two shipmates part, Todd discourages Anthony's innocently happy world view by recounting the tragic story of a young and naïve barber, his beautiful wife, and the lustful judge who exiled him to pursue her ("The Barber and His Wife").
Todd soon enters a meat pie shop on Fleet Street, where he encounters the shop's proprietress, Mrs. Nellie Lovett, who laments about the difficult economic times ("Worst Pies in London"). When Todd asks about her unoccupied upstairs apartment, she recounts the sad tale of the previous tenant, a barber named Benjamin Barker. Barker was sentenced on false charges by the corrupt Judge Turpin because of the Judge's lust for Barker's wife, Lucy. Mrs. Lovett reveals how, once Barker had been transported to Botany Bay in Australia, the Judge and his cohort, Beadle Bamford, then lured Lucy to the Judge's home and raped her ("Poor Thing").
Upon hearing the tale, Todd's reaction of explosive despair confirms Mrs. Lovett's suspicions that he is himself Benjamin Barker, back from Australia. She tells Todd that his wife poisoned herself and his then-infant daughter, Johanna, became a ward of the Judge. Todd swears revenge on the Judge and Beadle before Mrs. Lovett reveals Todd's old collection of sterling silver straight razors, which she has kept hidden for years, telling him that he can now live above her shop and become a barber again ("My Friends" and "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd: Lift Your Razor High, Sweeney!").