Sarah Rice, Sweeney Todd's Original Johanna, Dies at 68 | Playbill

Obituaries Sarah Rice, Sweeney Todd's Original Johanna, Dies at 68

Ms. Rice also performed in The Fantasticks Off-Broadway, 54 Below's Sondheim Unplugged, and in numerous operas around the world.

Actor Sarah Rice passed away January 6, 2024, as confirmed in a heartfelt tribute from friend and fellow performer Rebecca Caine on Instagram. Ms. Rice was 68 years old. 

Ms. Rice was best known for originating the role of Johanna in Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which opened on Broadway in 1979. That same year, she received a Theatre World Award for her performance. 

According to her website, Ms. Rice "arrived in NYC with $100, two cats, and a piano," and promptly immersed herself in the theatre world. Aside from Sweeney Todd, she performed in Hang On to Your Ribbons Off-Off-Broadway, stepped into the role of The Girl in the long-running Off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks, and originated the role of Susan in New York Theatre Workshop's The Waves, among other credits.

Equipped with lilting soprano vocals, Ms. Rice worked with numerous opera companies across the world, including Venice's Gran Teatro la Fenice, Santa Fe Opera, Central City Opera, and Dallas Opera. Ms. Rice also performed in various concerts around NYC, notably as a self-described "serial guest star" in 54 Below's Sondheim Unplugged series.  

Ms. Rice's website reports that throughout her life, she continued to perform and live in NYC, with the same piano and her cats. 

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