Book and Lyrics by Bertolt Brecht
Music by Kurt Weill

February/March 2009

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Off the Wall Theatre presented the musical masterpiece The 3Penny Opera, with a book and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and magnificent music by Kurt Weill. This classic is one of the most highly revered and beloved of all musical shows. From the haunting "Mack the Knife," to the show stopping "Cannon Song" The 3Penny Opera lives in our memories and has etched it's place in the world of musical theatre as an international hit. It has been translated and re-translated. It has been staged in many styles and periods, but the show remains a caustic, bitterly funny attack on hypocrisy and duplicity. A wildly erratic, dark comic farce, with jaunty jangling dance tunes and melodically winding ballads that have become standards worldwide, the 3Penny Opera is not to be missed.

Jeremy Welter played Mack the Knife, ruthless scoundrel and rake, the most charming serial killer who ever trod the boards. The much beloved local actress Liz Mistele played Polly, his innocent wife who changes into a hardhearted realist. She sang the world famous song, "Pirate Jenny." David Flores and Marilyn White played the Peachums, a couple who define the artificiality of middle class living. Their entire lives are built on falsehood and deceit. Mary de Batista played Jenny, the whore with the heart of goldplate, who betrays her old love in order to survive. She and Mack sang and dance a torrid tango number. Robert Hirschi played the corrupt police chief, Tiger Brown, and Kurtis Witzensteiner played his pregnant daughter, Lucy, one of Mack's former lovers. 

Director Dale Gutzman and Musical Director Ernest Brusubardis returned the show to its Musical Hall roots in the tiny Off the Wall Theatre space. Performers sang and danced through the audience and gave the performance the hard edge for which the original German production was so famous. Set designer David Roper created his usual environmental magic, putting the playing area around and into the audience. Following Brecht's original idea, the songs stood apart from the story, as the actors steped forth to sing the playwright's comments. Those of you who loved Off the Wall's "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" found a similar style used in "the 3Penny Opera."

Threepenny Opera
    or The Education of the Masses 
A short essay by Dale Gutzman
click here