Trinity University’s department of theatre will debut the musical “The Threepenny Opera” next week, with a preview night on Thursday and the official opening on Friday. The performance is open to the general public and tickets can be purchased at the student theatre box office.
“This is an adaptation by [composers] Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill of a literal translation by [German dramatist] Elizabeth Hauptmann of this play from the 18th century called The Beggars’ Opera, and it was built originally as an opera by and for beggars; a sort of a light, comic opera. This adaptation modernizes it and became basically the model for modern musical theatre,” said Kyle Gillette, associate professor of human communication and Theatre and Director of “˜The Threepenny Opera.’
According to Gillette, the story of “The Threepenny Opera” is set in a version of London where elements of the 19th century mix with contemporary ones. The musical concerns several threads, one of them being Mr. Peachum, who runs a shop for beggars.
“He kind of has a monopoly on selling the rights to begging in London. [“¦] Mr. Peachum has a shop where he sells slogans and sells outfits for beggars to make them look more pitiable, like stumps and things like this. So it’s sort of a parody of how he used messages from the Bible to actually bilk people of their money,” Gillette said.
In the play, Peachum’s daughter Polly weds criminal mastermind Macheath, “Mack the Knife,” and a rivalry between Mr. Peachum and Macheath ensues.
“That starts the plot, and you kind of get Mack pursued by Mr. Peachum, and you get all these wonderful scenes, lots of great music and just a fascinating play and musical. It was the inspiration for all of the meta-musicals that we have now like Cabaret”¦ these dark, seedy musicals that point to a political underbelly that it exposes; those all have their bases in the The Threepenny Opera,” Gillette said.
The cast of the play consists of approximately twenty five students. Among them, Mr. Peachum and his wife will be played by Matthew Reynolds and Amy Rossini; Polly Peachum will be played by Jasmin Weber; Macheath will be played by Alejandro Cardona; the chief-of-police, Tiger Brown, will be portrayed by Nicholas Champion; Tiger Brown’s daughter, Lucy Brown, will be played by Tristan Harness.
“The students here put a lot of effort and time into it, and it’s going to be interesting because we don’t have musicals that often on campus; it’s every two years. [Students] should come and watch it because it’s different, it’s not like a normal play and it’s not like a normal musical.” said senior Ember Porter, production and stage manager for the show.
According to Gillette, “The Threepenny Opera” will have a preview on Thursday November 12 called the “Threepenny Thursday,” which anyone can attend for the price of three pennies or by donating a greater amount to the Theatre. The show will officially open on Friday November 13 at 8:00 p.m., and will run until Saturday November 21. On Saturday November 14, the play will run at 8:00 p.m., on Sunday November 15 there will be a matinee at 2:00 p.m.; on the following Wednesday and Thursday, it will run at 7:00 p.m., and that Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase online and at the student theatre box office.
“It’s going to be a great show. The music is fantastic, the characters are deeply puzzling and the show is just tremendous food for thought. Even if you’re not usually a theatre person, the “The Threepenny Opera” “¦ can be very gratifying, it can be a really rewarding experience because it’s truly unlike anything that has been done before,” Cardona said.