A boisterous, chummy and charming Cockney cook, Mrs. Lovett is more cold-hearted and cruel than she first appears. She expresses her shock at a neighbouring pie maker catching stray cats and putting them into her meat pies not only because “it’s enough to make you sick,” but also because “them pussy cats is quick”. More chilling still, she leads Sweeney to believe that his wife is dead, comes up with the idea to bake Sweeney’s victims and sell them to unwitting customers., and attempts to murder Toby when she starts to suspect Todd is up to no good. In short, Mrs. Lovett is not a nice person. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to be won over by her wicked sense of humour and her irrepressible energy. Moreover, her longing for a loving home with Sweeney Todd can be somewhat touching, if a bit deranged. The role requires a tour-de-force performance, broadly comic but also specific and grounded. Much of the singing required can be done in a character voice, and so it is more important that Mrs. Lovett be a terrific actress than a virtuoso singer.