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Friday, May 02, 2008

Connecticut Repertory Theatre's "The Threepenny Opera" a sharp, devilish morality tale

Three Stars (good)

Location: Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre, Jorgensen Road, Storrs.

Production: Book and Lyrics by Bertolt Brecht. Music by Kurt Weill. English adaptation by Marc Blitzstein. Directed by Dave Dalton. Musical director Ken Clark. Scenic designer Isaac Ramsey. Costume designer Dragana Vucetic. Lighting designer Mike Billings. Sound designer Emily Tritsch. Technical director Scott Bartley.

Running time: About 2 1/2 hours with one intermission.

Show Times: Wednesday, and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. through May 3.

Tickets: Range in price from $11 to $28. Call 486-4266 of visit their Web site at


Rob Rosado … Street Singer
Christopher Hirsh … Mr. J.J. Peachum
Lauretta Pope … Mrs. Peachum
Brian Michael Hoffman* … Fitch
Heddy Lahmann … Polly Peachum
Michael Hanson … Macheath
Hillary Parker … Jenny
Timothy Byrne … Reverend Kimball
Michael Daly* … Tiger Brown
Michael Morales … Smith
Rachel Leigh Rosado … Lucy Brown
Joseph Gallina … Readymoney Matt
James McMenamin*… Crookfinger Jake
Luke Daniels … Bob the Saw
Jeremy Garfinkel … Walt Dreary
Meghan O'Leary … Betty
Mary-Elizabeth Murray … Dolly
Rebecca Ricker-Gilbert … Molly
Catherine Yudain … Coaxer
Carolyn Cumming … ensemble
Noah Weintraub … ensemble

* Appears courtesy of Actor's Equity Association

By Kory Loucks

ran in the Journal Inquirer, May 1, 2008


"The Threepenny Opera," playing at the Connecticut Repertory Theater at the University of Connecticut, is an energetic and exuberant production of the dark and devilish morality tale about society's evils.

Originally produced in Berlin, Germany, in 1928, the show is the precursor to such modern musicals such as "Sweeney Todd" and "Cabaret." Yesterday's innovations are today's standards, and Bertoldt Brecht's "The Threepenny Opera" is no exception to that rule. What was so original and groundbreaking and shocking in its day, today is the norm.

Brecht's idea about art and theater was not just to entertain, but first and foremost to instigate real social change through the medium of artistic expression. He chose to abandon realism and delve into the meta-theater of ideas. In this he was a theatrical innovator.

Even if you have never heard of "The Threepenny Opera" you have likely heard of the song "Mack the Knife," the definitive rendition which was recorded by Bobby Darin in 1959, as well as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. It's a catchy tune, but the words and their meaning are pretty nasty. Macheath is no good guy, which in itself was unusual, to have an anti-hero as the center of the show. Macheath is played with requisite smiling charm and charisma by Michael Hanson.

Set in the dark underworld of London, England

all the characters are a pretty bad lot. Macheath is a player with a couple wives and numerous lovers. He marries Polly Peachum, played with Cupie-doll innocence tinged with some backbone by Heddy Lahmann.

Peachum's parents, Mr. J. J. Peachum and Mrs. Peachum, played by Christopher Hirsh and Lauretta Pope, are none too pleased about the nuptials and set out to get Macheath hanged.

Peachum is in the profession of selling beggars' licenses to beg, and collects half their earnings. A seemingly prosperous endeavor in this dark, mean place, where one of the characters says, "money rules the world."

Hirsh's Peachum is a broad, blustering, wild thing, with a voice reminiscent of Snidely Whiplash from the old Dudley Doright cartoons. He stomped about with thick-soled boots wearing cockeyed broken eyeglasses that must have been a challenge to his depth perception, particularly on the forward-slanting stage. His was a well-realized character for the show, as was his nasty wife, played with zeal by Lauretta Pope.

Some adult situations and graphic implied sexual acts make this show inappropriate for children.

In the first act the orchestra, located in the rear of the stage, overpowered some of the actors, and early on some of the dialog was difficult to hear. This improved as the show progressed.

The second act introduces Lucy Brown, Macheath's other wife, played by Rachel Leigh Rosado. She performed with style and sang "Barbara Song," with power and grace.

The duet following, "Jealousy Duet," with Lucy and Polly is also a standout number. What these women see in the philandering player Macheath, Lord only knows, but the attraction of bad boys transcends time.

Between some of the scenes a projection describing events is flashed on various objects

harking back to the silent movie era, and helping advance the plot, to fine effect.

The costumes designed by Dragana Vucetic were inspired ragged punk rock style outfits, which worked well with the asymmetrically-applied kohl black and white stylized makeup.

"The Threepenny Opera" is a stirring spirited production and a fine conclusion to a strong season for the Connecticut Repertory Theater.

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