Theater Review - The Threepenny Opera (NY)

A marvelous bull dog named Romeo playing Queen Victoria nearly steals the show!


Martha Clarke's direction and choreography in “ The Threepenny Opera” is a blending of sensuality, clarity and charisma. This production of the 1928 classic, written by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill with an English Adaptation by Marc Blitzstein, is dark and foreboding (spare Set with doorways by Robert Israel, smoky Lighting by Christopher Akerlind) with sparks of ironic humor that light up the black holes. What I like best about this present production is that the orchestra, which is situated in the back of the stage, does not overwhelm the singers and their songs. There are complaints by fellow critics that the production is not gritty enough; but with its touches of nudity and skullduggery, it certainly gives off an edgy aura. 


The cast is superb, costumed by Donna Zakowska.  F. Murray Abraham and Mary Beth Peil, actor’s actors, are perfect as Mr. and Mrs. Peachums, who run a business training pickpockets, thieves, and scoundrels. There's an amusing scene where they demonstrate their techniques to get ready for the Queen's Coronation. This couple is outraged when their darling daughter, Polly, the lovely Laura Osnes, who possesses a silvery voice, runs off with the biggest crook of all, Macheath. Michael Park is imposing, and boasts a powerful voice in the role as Mack, the Knife. 


While Mack is romancing and pretending to marry Polly, and lands in jail, he is placating his wife, the pregnant Lucy Brown, played by Lilli Cooper. Delivering the number “Pirate Jenny,” Sally Murphy strikes the right pose as a wrecked human being.


The score is so strong and arouses so much emotion that it points up the weaknesses in the new musicals we are seeing today. “The Threepenny Opera” at the Atlantic Theater Company, West Street.

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