Mrs. Nellie Lovett
Mrs. Lovett
Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Nellie Lovett

Real name

Nellie Lovett


40s in most adaptations




Albert Lovett (deceased)
Sweeney Todd (lover in some versions) (deceased)





Cause of death

Thrown in pie oven by Sweeney Todd

Portrayed by

*Janis Kelly (2014-2015 (WNO) Production Tour)

Mrs. Lovett is a fictional character that has appeared in many adaptations of the story Sweeney Todd, including some of the original pieces about the infamous character.

She is sometimes referred to as Nellie (most commonly), Marjorie, Maggie, Sarah, Shirley, Wilhemina, or Claudetta. It is debated if she was based on a living person or not.[1] The character also appears in modern media related to Sweeney Todd including the Stephen Sondheim musical and the recently released musical film with Johnny Depp as Todd.

She loves him deeply, although he fails to recognize her affection.


Mrs. Lovett is the business partner of the vindictive barber Sweeney Todd. In the stage musical and the 2007 movie of the same name, Todd pays a visit to Mrs. Lovett's pie shop, seeking information about his wife and daughter. Although he was deported from London many years ago on a false charge, Mrs. Lovett recognizes him as her former tenant, Benjamin Barker. She has always admired Todd, and agrees to keep his secret of changing his identity. She also informs him that his wife was raped by Judge Turpin, and poisoned herself while he was away. Seeking vengeance, he opens a shaving parlor above the shop, and slits the throats of his customers. Todd creates a chute to send the corpses of his victims down to her bakehouse to which prompts Mrs. Lovett to use the flesh to bake meat pies, granting her business popularity. She also cares for a young boy named Tobias Ragg, who views her as a motherly figure. Towards the end of the story, Todd murders a beggar woman, not knowing that she was actually his wife, Lucy. When Mrs. Lovett had told him that Lucy had poisoned herself, he assumed that she died. Although driven mad from arsenic consumption, Lucy lived. Going insane, he waltzes with Lovett "proclaiming" his love to her, and throws her into the furnace, letting her burn to death. He himself is killed thereafter by Tobias.

Mrs. Lovett's characteristics have been altered depending on different adaptations. She is sometimes an attractive beauty, or a plump and insane woman. Another version of the story tells of Todd and Lovett having shops next door to each other and Todd's barber chair operated on a revolving floor system similar to the medieval Oubliette. Todd would then open the revolving floor and tip the victim into the cellar. 90% of victims would die of a broken neck as a result. The remaining 10% would have their throats cut by Todd. The victims are then dismembered and their flesh is baked into pies. Upon the discovery of the crimes of the pair, Lovett commits suicide in prison with poison and Todd is executed following a trial. The United States has announced that a new drama television program is currently in production to give the story of Sweeney Todd a new life from a new point of view. The story will feature each of the existing characters but with the twist of the tale being told from Mrs. Lovett's point of view. FOX 8 believes that the story will be similar to the current show airing in both Australia and America, "The Good Wife" where it portrays a woman in her life behind a powerful known figure in the world. Production managers have stated that they also would like to rearrange the story a little bit, claiming that what would happen if Mrs. Lovett began to disagree with the actions she and Sweeney were taking. currently no title has been declared but the favored options are "The Pie Woman" and "A Little Priest".


In film and stage adaptations of the Sweeney Todd story, Lovett is considered the female lead, second only to the title character. The role has attracted several acclaimed actresses to accept the role. To date all actresses (who have been eligible) to play the role on Broadway have earned Tony Award nominations.

  • Angela Lansbury won a Tony Award for her performance in originating the role of Mrs. Lovett on Broadway in 1979.
  • Patti LuPone received a Tony Award-nomination for playing the role in a 2005 Broadway revival. For the role LuPone had to learn to play the tuba. She also performed Lovett's songs in the Primetime Emmy Award-winning concert version in 2001.
  • Helena Bonham Carter received a Golden Globe nomination for playing Lovett in the 2007 musical film Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Her characterization is particularly loving towards Tobias, who comes to stay with her, and she sheds tears when coming to the realization that he may have to be killed to silence him when he suspects Todd of wrongdoing.
  • Beth Fowler earned a Drama Desk and Tony Award-nomination for her performance the first revival of the musical.
  • Joanna Lumley portrayed her in the 1998 Showtime television movie The Tale of Sweeney Todd starring Ben Kingsley.
  • Stella Rho played the role in the 1936 film adaption. The character in this movie was credited as Mrs. Lovatt. Her characterization includes her being a businesswoman with eye only for the money that she and Todd are supposed to split between them from his dead customers. She states in the film that she has no interest in him romantically, and comes to an off-screen end not specifically involving her oven.
  • Judy Kaye replaced Patti LuPone in the 2005 Broadway revival, before it ended production in early 2006. She went on star in the national tour version of the John Doyle revival for which she received acclaim and like LuPone had to learn to play the tuba.
  • Currently, the cast for America's adaptation of Sweeney Todd is unknown.
  • Tarni Hearn played the role of Lovett in the 2016 play at Staughton College


In the musical Mrs. Lovett sings many numbers by herself and with other characters. The tracks were all composed by Stephen Sondheim. These include:

(* Edited for musical film) (** Cut from musical film)