Interview: Joe Locke Opens Up About His New Broadway Gig in SWEENEY TODD

Sweeney Todd is running on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

By: Feb. 25, 2024
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Interview: Joe Locke Opens Up About His New Broadway Gig in SWEENEY TODD
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The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre is full of new faces. And we're not just talking about Sutton Foster and Aaron Tveit...

Just last month, Joe Locke, the breakout star of Netflix’s hit show “Heartstopper,” made his Broadway debut as Tobias in the Tony Award-nominated revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. 

Locke can currently be seen starring as Charlie Spring in Netflix’s “Heartstopper,” an adaptation of the webcomic and graphic novel of the same name by Alice Oseman. He made his professional stage debut in The Donmar Warehouse’s production of Dawn King’s The Trials in 2022, for which he won the Best Professional Debut Award at this year’s What’s On Stage Awards. Next year, he will star alongside Kathryn HahnAubrey Plaza and Patti LuPone in Disney+/Marvel’s “Agatha: Darkhold Diaries,” based on the Marvel Comics character Agatha Harkness. 

Read below as Joe checks in with BroadwayWorld to chat about making his Broadway debut, taking on a beloved Sondheim role, and so much more!

So you've been in the show for a couple of weeks now... How is it going so far? 

It's going really well. I'm enjoying it now! Not that I wasn't enjoying it to begin with, but the stress is over now and I feel like I know what I'm doing. I'm having fun with it more. And also... now that Sutton and Aaron have joined, it's like the pressure's off me and on them [Laughs], which is kind of great. I'm not the new guy anymore!

That must also be an added pressure though- going into a new show, getting your footing, but then so soon after you have new actors to play with on stage... 

It's been really fun. Especially that the new actors are those two specifically... It's been so amazing, getting to know them and getting to work with them. 

What was it like for their first night in the show?

Oh, It was like a Taylor Swift concert. [Laughs] We were all backstage like, "What is this?! What's happening?" The audience was crazy. 

Have you ever done Sweeney Todd before? Do you have any kind of relationship with the show? 

I mean, I've always been a fan of the show, but I've never done it before. I've always wanted to...

How do you see Tobias as a character? What's your take on him?

Toby's a really great character. I think Toby can be played as quite simple... maybe a bit stupid? I think you should never play a character with the belief that your character is stupid, whether they are or not. And I actually don't think Toby is. I think he's very street smart. I mean, he probably can't read... but he could defend you from being mugged. So his intelligence is in different forms than other people. I think that's why he feels such a protectiveness over Mrs. Lovett and why he gets such a relationship with her because I don't think he's had much of a mother figure in his life. 

Sweeney Todd

Do you have a favorite moment to play on stage and do you have a favorite moment to watch from backstage?

My favorite moment to play is all of "God, That's Good". I just love that song so much and I think it's the hardest song in the show and I keep getting wrong- I still have to master it! It's so much fun.

But to watch... I get to watch the finale scene between Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett from the stairs on the stage, and I come out right before [SPOILER ALERT] he throws her in the oven. But every night I keep coming out earlier and earlier because I really love that song! The other night I came out way too early and I knew I would get told off, but I so wanted to watch it.

Did you get to work with [director] Thomas Kail at all before you went into the show?

Yeah, Tommy's such an amazing director and was so welcoming and so open to new ideas and finding new nuances within the show that they've already created. I always felt like my ideas were listened to and it wasn't like I had to do a specific script of Toby. I was really able to find my own Toby. 

Is it at all weird being a British person in a show about British people... being played by American people? 

[Laughs] I mean, it just makes me feel like I'm always gonna have the best accent out of everyone. The pressure's off on that!

I saw that Patti LuPone came to visit over the weekend. What was that like? 

Really nerve-racking. Almost as nerve-racking as opening night. I wish she hadn't told me she was coming!

Did you know you'd be going into this show when you were still working with her on Agatha: Darkhold Diaries? 

No, actually! I talked to her about wanting to do musical, but I didn't know I was doing this until, I didn't find a start until the end of November. 


A post shared by Sutton Foster (@suttonlenore)

Growing up, did you do a lot of theater in school?

Yeah, I always loved theater. I always did lots of amateur theater when I was growing up. I was always doing show. My mom was always taking me to a different rehearsal for a different thing. Pretty much throughout my whole childhood, which is definitely why I'm here today.

Being a young person in this business, do you still have moments of "How the hell did I get here?"

Yes. Every day! It's been a very, very strange few years. [Laughs]

What are you most looking forward to in your time ahead in this run in Sweeney Todd?

I'm just looking forward to doing the show every night. I can't see myself getting bored of it. It's such an incredible, incredible show and everyone backstage is so incredible and I'm just having the best time, the best time. 

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street began performances on February 26, 2023, and opened on March 26, 2023, at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s landmark musical, from an adaptation by Christopher Bond, tells the tale of a resourceful pie shop owner and a vengeful barber out for blood. After he’s sent away by a corrupt judge, Sweeney returns to London years later seeking his long-lost family, and forms an unlikely partnership with Mrs. Lovett, who serves up pies underneath his former shop. Together, they wreak havoc on Fleet Street and serve up the hottest – and most unsettling – pies in London.

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