Adolfo Pirelli
Pirelli in the film, played by Sacha Baron Cohen.

Real name

Daniel O'Higgins/Davy Collins







Cause of death

Throat slit by Sweeney Todd

Portrayed by

Sal Mistretta (original Broadway production)
John Aron (1980 London production)
Donna Lynne Champlin (2005 Broadway revival)
Sacha Baron Cohen (2007 film)

Signor Adolfo Pirelli is a flamboyant, outrageous, faux-Italian barber and con man. Really a young Irish man by the name of Daniel O'Higgins, he pretends to be Italian in order to substantiate his false claim that he is the official barber of the King of Naples. In this way, he manages to convince the people of London that he is a stylish and expert haircutter and toothpuller, and returns every Thursday to grace them with his presence. He is the tertiary antagonist of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 film).


Played by Sacha Baron Cohen in the film, Pirelli enters after hearing Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett spout insults about Pirelli's Miracle Elixir, claiming it to be merely "piss with ink". Upon entering, Pirelli begins to sing and move flamboyantly, demanding to know who has said this dastardly thing about his elixir. Todd confesses, and challenges Pirelli to a shaving contest (see The Contest). The cocky Pirelli wastes his time boasting and holding a Tenor C to emphasize his "grace", and loses the contest to Todd. He gives up five pounds to Todd, and storms off with Toby. Pirelli returns later in the film to get it back. He reveals his identity as Daniel O'Higgins, an Irish lad who used to work for Benjamin Barker (Sweeney Todd) before his exile. Now eager for payback, Pirelli demands that Sweeney hand over half of his profits to him every week, or else he will tell Beadle Bamford that Benjamin Barker has returned. As he is laughing at his cunning plan, an enraged Todd beats him in the head with an iron pot and then stuffs him into the chest, just before Toby enters the room. After talking to Toby and getting him to go away with a promise of a nice big "tot of gin," Todd returns to the chest, hauls Pirelli out and slits his throat, using his razor as a murder weapon for the very first time.

Signor Pirelli is a tenor role, though he has also been played by a female vocalist in one production. Pirelli was played by Sal Mistretta in the 1982 taping of the Original Broadway Production of Sweeney Todd, by Joaquin Romaguera in the Original Broadway Cast in the 1970s, and by Donna Lynne Champlin in the 2005 Broadway Revival.


Donna lynne sweeney

Donna Lynne Champlin on Broadway in 05

Signor Pirell is normally the most flamboyant and least drably-dressed character in the play, especially during "The Contest". For example, in the film, he wore a tight purple tailored suit with gold trim and a white frilled shirt. His hair was done up in two side-buns, and he bore a long, Italianate mustache. In the original Broadway play, Sal Mistretta wore a tight green suit and a large, comic red bow tie.

Pirelli tends to make very elaborate gestures and vocal expressions, and also tends to be one of the more operatic singers in the play or film productions. Many times, fans are upset to see Pirelli die so early in the performance, due to his presence as comic relief. However, most people understand that his comedy would not be appreciated in the gruesome second act of the show.

Differences between the play and filmEdit

There are two differences regarding Pirelli between the play and film:

  • In the original production, Pirelli's real name was Daniel O'Higgins. His name was changed to Davie Collins for the movie.
  • Todd strangled Pirelli before slitting his throat in the original. In the movie, he bludgeons him into unconsciousness with an iron teapot before slitting his throat.