I never had dreams. Only nightmares
~ Johanna Barker to Anthony Hope

Johanna Barker is a character from Stephen Sondheim's 1979 musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and its adaptions.



Johanna is cold, serious and mournful: she doesn't show any emotion in any situation, except with her protector, the slimy and wicked Judge Turpin: with him she's afraid and nervous, knowing the cruelty of the man. 

Under her chilly and aloof exterior, Johanna is eager to escape, to be free, to fly away from her loveless and dark prison; for going away she doesn't hesitate to manipulate the naive and good young sailor Anthony Hope, who was in love with her: the girl will never return his feelings (after many years of psychological tortures, Johanna had become unable to love) but she seems to have some trust and affection for the guy (this detail is much more explored in the Tim Burton's 2007 movie).

We can think she's got some mental problems: in the musical she killed the sadistic dr. Fogg with a gun for leaving the asylum with Anthony.

Despite all, the character of Johanna is more pleasing in the original musical instead of the gloomy and severe young girl played by Jayne Wisener in the Tim Burton's movie.

Physical appearance

In the musical Judge Turpin's ward is described as extremely beautiful, with golden hair and porcelain skin. The maiden reminds in look her late mother, Lucy Barker, blonde and desirable too. 

In the film Johanna is, like in the musical, fair and lovely with blue eyes and she has long, wavy, blonde hair. The girl is very pale too, pallid, almost white in face.

She wears many different dresses: one at her first scene, blue, with a string of pearls; another one, pink; the third one is a light blue coat and we can see the last dress at dr. Fogg's Asylum, dark and dirty. Disguised as a boy, she hides her light hair with a hat and she wears a brown sailor coat.



The infant Johanna with her mother Lucy

Johanna Barker is Benjamin Barker and his wife Lucy's daughter: Mr. Barker is a young barber who works in Fleet Street, in London, and the family enjoys their simple and happy life. Their happiness has destroyed by the powerful and corrupted Judge Turpin, who wants the virtuous and charming Lucy for himself: Turpin imprisons for life the poor barber in Australia, and then he stalks obsessively his inconsolable wife.

Full of lust, the Judge with a trick invits Lucy in his house during a party: when the young woman arrives the man, wasted and aroused, rapes her in front of his guests. Lucy, humiliated and shattered, at home tries to make suicide with some poison, but she doesn't die; instead of dying, the woman become completely insane and Turpin takes the infant Johanna, raising her as his ward. 

A teenager Johanna locked in her room

Johanna grows up in beauty and grace, wearing pretty dresses and precious jewels, but locked in her room with no love, and the depraved Judge as her only company. At the age of fifteeen, the fair but sad girl is noticed by a young sailor, Anthony Hope, who instantly falls in love with her; the guy swears he will save his sweetheart from the evil Judge. Johanna, almost mad because of her imprisonment, takes the chance and, pretending to return his feelings, gives him the key of her room.

The Judge, in heat another time, asks his ward to marry him: the girl, disgusted and full of fear, plans with Anthony a nocturnal escape but Turpin finds out the plan. Furious and betrayed, the man has a discussion with the scared Johanna, who said she will leave the house in one way or the other (this scene is only in the movie); then the girl is committed to dr. Fogg's asylum by her protector, for separating his ward and Anthony.

Johanna is discovered by the Judge

The sailor, disguised as a hairdresser, swindles the doctor and saves the poor Johanna, who was hidden between the mad prisoners; the maiden kills dr. Fogg, shooting him (in the film Fogg is lynched by his patients), and the couple runs away in the night up to Sweeney Todd' Shop, a temporary refuge for the girl. There Anthony gives to her a sailor coat and a hat for disguise herself and he orders her to wait for him, until he won't have returned with a carriage for leaving London forever. Johanna, worried, obeys and wanders around the shop: suddenly a Beggar Woman enters in the room calling the Beadle (Turpin's assistant) and the girl, afraid, hides herself in a trunk.


Johanna disguised as a sailor boy

The owner of the shop, Sweeney Todd (aka Benjamin Barker, returned to London with another name and looking for revenge), sees the crazy Beggar Woman (Lucy, his wife) and, don't recognizing her, kills her slitting her throat with a razor. After this, he kills in the same way Judge Turpin in person (who was attracted by Todd in the shop). Barker's daughter watches the murders hidden in the trunk: Todd notices her and tries to assassinate her too (like Lucy, Benjamin doesn't understand the girl is his daughter): in that moment Todd hears a scream and Johanna takes advantage of his distraction to run away (in the movie the barber spares her).

Later Anthony returns with the coach and him and his sweetheart escape together. 


  • The Ballad of Sweeney Todd (cut in the movie)
  • Green Finch and Linnet Bird
  • Ah, Miss! (cut in the movie)
  • Kiss me (cut in the movie)
  • Johanna (reprise)
  • Kiss me (reprise) (cut in the movie)
  • The Judge's Return
  • The Ballad of Sweeney Todd (reprise) (cut in the movie)


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