re: Baker's Wife and Cindy's Prince Question
Posted by: AlanScott 04:32 pm EST 11/14/22
In reply to: Baker's Wife and Cindy's Prince Question - dlittle 09:09 pm EST 11/11/22

Unlike some of the respondents, I think it is at least somewhat ambiguous, as with the question of Sweeney and Lovett that we have discussed here several times over the years, including rather recently. I stayed out of the most recent discussion of Sweeney and Lovett as I just did not feel like getting involved in that one again.

But this is one that I don't recall having come up here before.

In 1987, I rather thought they didn't, but it wasn't definite to me. Now I rather lean toward yes. I would say that if the Prince did not have sex with the Baker's Wife, he might defend himself with Cinderella by saying, "Yes, I started to stray, but I realized that it is you whom I truly love. I could not go through with it." OTOH, even the Prince might realize that is a lame response. Still, I rather think he would probably say it. So I guess I think they did have sex. But I certainly don't think the original staging overly suggested that they did have sex.

His final line before leaving the Baker's Wife suggests to me that they had sex. "How alive you have made me feel." He doesn't say, "I'm leaving feeling a bit frustrated." If he had blue balls, would he have said that she had made him feel so alive?

What exactly do the birds tell Cinderella? I wonder.

Anyway, I have no answer. I think it is something that the actors and director in each production might decide for themselves, as with Sweeney and Lovett.

I guess I will say now what I have said in the past on that other subject: I never thought that Sweeney and Lovett were having sex when watching the original production. I can add that Cariou was once asked about this, and he did not think they were having sex. I thought it was quite clear with the original cast that they were not having sex.

In fairly recent times, Sondheim wrote to someone who asked about this that he thought they were having sex, and that is what he intended to convey, but he also indicated, perhaps a bit surprisingly, that it wasn't especially important to him. And if it was clear to me that Cariou at least was playing that they weren't having sex, and I think Lansbury also was playing that they weren't having sex, wouldn't this have been clear to Sondheim and wouldn't he have said something?

Nonetheless, more than once (perhaps two or at most three times in all) I have heard and read him refer to them as "lovers."

It may be that with Lansbury and Hearn, they were having sex, but I didn't feel that with Loudon and Hearn. This does make me think of the Barrymore story. When asked if Hamlet and Ophelia had sex, he is said to have replied, "Only in the Chicago company."

I always thought Lansbury's Lovett was frigid and terrified of sex. She thought she wanted sex, but she would have frozen if Sweeney had tried to have sex with her. She would have been happy to have him sleep next to her and perhaps cuddle a bit with her.

Ultimately, I think Sweeney Todd as written by Sondheim and Wheeler is a tragedy. I guess I feel that if Sweeney has sex with Lovett, it is not a tragedy, but simply a melodrama. Sondheim has often described it as a melodrama, but he also said more than once that it was a tragedy. Of course, as with many tragedies, there is lots of melodrama.

Anyway, both with the Baker's Wife and Cinderella's Prince, and with Sweeney and Lovett, it is up to the actors and the director in each production.

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