The Story
The Threepenny Opera
Music
KURT WEILL

Book & Lyrics
BERTOLT BRECHT
This is a darkly satirical adaptation of John Gay's "The Beggar's Opera". The outlaw Macheath (Mackie Messer, or Mack the Knife) marries Polly Peachum. This displeases her father, who controls the beggars of London, and he endeavours to have Macheath hanged. His attempts are hindered by the fact that the Chief of Police, Tiger Brown, is Macheath's old army comrade. Still, Peachum exerts his influence and eventually gets Macheath arrested and sentenced to hang. Macheath escapes this fate via a deus ex machina moments before the execution when, in an unrestrained parody of a happy ending, a messenger from the Queen Victoria arrives to pardon Macheath and grant him the title of Baron.

PHOTOS
2006 Broadway Revival
Artworks/ Posters

VIDEOS
Alan Cumming, Cyndi Lauper and 2006 Broadway revival company perform "The Ballad of the Pimp" on the Tony Awards.

MUSIC
Check back soon when music for The Threepenny Opera becomes available.

THE STORY

PROLOGUE

A street singer entertains the crowd with the illustrated murder ballad or Bänkelsang, entitled "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer" ("Ballad of Mack the Knife"). As the song concludes, a well-dressed man leaves the crowd and crosses the stage. This is Macheath, alias "Mack the Knife".


ACT ONE

The story begins in the shop of Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum, the boss of London's beggars, who outfits and trains the beggars in return for a slice of their takings from begging. In the first scene, the extent of Peachum's iniquity is immediately exposed. Filch, a new beggar, is obliged to bribe his way into the profession and agree to pay over to Peachum 50 percent of whatever he made; the previous day he had been severely beaten up for begging within the area of jurisdiction of Peachum's protection racket. This acts as a depiction of capitalist exploitation, in a world where even beggars, individuals at the most exposed and lowest class, are constrained to pay protection.

After finishing with the new man, Peachum becomes aware that his grown daughter Polly did not return home the previous night. Peachum, who sees his daughter as his own private property, concludes that she has become involved with Macheath. This does not suit Peachum at all, and he becomes determined to thwart this relationship and destroy Macheath.

The scene shifts to an empty stable where Macheath himself is preparing to marry Polly once his gang has stolen and brought all the necessary food and furnishings. No vows are exchanged, but Polly is satisfied, and everyone sits down to a banquet. Since none of the gang members can provide fitting entertainment, Polly gets up and sings "Seeräuberjenny", a revenge fantasy in which she is a scullery maid turning pirate queen to order the execution of her bosses and customers. The gang becomes nervous when the Chief of Police, Tiger Brown, arrives, but it's all part of the act; Brown had served with Mack in England's colonial wars and had intervened on numerous occasions to prevent the arrest of Macheath over the years. The old friends duet in the "Kanonen-Song" ("Cannon Song" or "Army Song"). In the next scene, Polly returns home and defiantly announces that she has married Macheath by singing the "Barbarasong" ("Barbara Song"). She stands fast against her parents' anger, but she inadvertently reveals Brown's connections to Macheath which they subsequently use to their advantage.


ACT TWO

Polly warns Macheath that her father will try to have him arrested. He is finally convinced that Peachum has enough influence to do it and makes arrangements to leave London, explaining the details of his bandit "business" to Polly so she can manage it in his absence. Before he leaves town, he stops at his favorite brothel, where he sees his ex-lover, Jenny. They sing the "Zuhälterballade" ("Pimp's Ballad") about their days together, but Macheath doesn't know Mrs Peachum has bribed Jenny to turn him in. Despite Brown's apologies, there's nothing he can do, and Macheath is dragged away to jail. After he sings the "Ballade vom angenehmen Leben" ("Ballad of the Pleasant Life"), another girlfriend, Lucy (Brown's daughter) and Polly show up at the same time, setting the stage for a nasty argument that builds to the "Eifersuchtsduett" ("Jealousy Duet"). After Polly leaves, Lucy engineers Macheath's escape. When Mr Peachum finds out, he confronts Brown and threatens him, telling him that he will unleash all of his beggars during Queen Victoria's coronation parade, ruining the ceremony and costing Brown his job.


ACT THREE

Jenny comes to the Peachums' shop to demand her money for the betrayal of Macheath, which Mrs Peachum refuses to pay. Jenny reveals that Macheath is at Suky Tawdry's house. When Brown arrives, determined to arrest Peachum and the beggars, he is horrified to learn that the beggars are already in position and only Mr Peachum can stop them. To placate Peachum, Brown's only option is to arrest Macheath and have him executed. In the next scene, Macheath is back in jail and desperately trying to raise a sufficient bribe to get out again, even as the gallows are being assembled. Soon it becomes clear that neither Polly nor the gang members can, or are willing to, raise any money, and Macheath prepares to die. Then a sudden and intentionally comical reversal: a messenger on horseback arrives to announce that Macheath has been pardoned by the queen and granted a title, a castle and a pension. The cast then sings the Finale, which ends with a plea that wrongdoing not be punished too harshly as life is harsh enough.

LIBRETTO

Check back soon when libretto and/or lyrics for The Threepenny Opera becomes available.

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CAST & CREATIVES
Creative
Producer ROUNDABOUT THEATRE COMPANY
Direction SCOTT ELLIOTT
Choreography ASZURE BARTON
Musical Director KEVIN STITES
Scenic Design DEREK McLANE
Costume Design ISAAC MIZRAHI
Lighting Design JASON LYONS
Sound Design KEN TRAVIS
Cast
Macheath ALAN CUMMING
Mr. Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum JIM DALE
Mrs. Celia Peachum ANA GASTEYER
Polly Peachum NELLIE McKAY
Lucy Brown BRIAN CHARLES ROONEY
Jenny CYNDI LAUPER
Jackie "Tiger" Brown CHRISTOPHER INNVAR
Creative
Producer JEROME HELLMAN
Direction JOHN DEXTER
Choreography PETER GENNARO
Musical Director JULIUS RUDEL
Scenic Design JOCELYN HERBERT
Costume Design JOCELYN HERBERT
Lighting Design ANDY PHILLIPS & BRIAN NASON
Sound Design PETER FITZGERALD
Cast
Macheath STING
Mr. Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum ALVIN EPSTEIN
Mrs. Celia Peachum GEORGIA BROWN
Polly Peachum MAUREEN McGOVERN
Lucy Brown KIM CRISWELL
Jenny SUZZANNE DOUGLAS
Jackie "Tiger" Brown LARRY MARSHALL
Creative
Producer THE NEW YORK SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
Direction RICHARD FOREMAN
Musical Director STANLEY SILVERMAN
Scenic Design DOUGLAS W. SCHMIDT
Costume Design THEONI V. ALDREDGE
Lighting Design PAT COLLINS
Sound Design ROGER JAY
Cast
Macheath RAUL JULIA
Mr. Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum C.K. ALEXANDER
Mrs. Celia Peachum ELIZABETH WILSON
Polly Peachum CAROLINE KAVA
Lucy Brown BLAIR BROWN
Jenny ELLEN GREENE
Jackie "Tiger" Brown DAVID SABIN
Creative
Producer CARMEN CAPALBO, STANLEY CHASE
Direction CARMEN CAPALBO
Scenic Design WILLIAM PITKIN
Lighting Design PEGGY CLARK
Cast
Macheath SCOTT MERRILL
Mr. Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum FREDERIC DOWNS
Mrs. Celia Peachum JANE CONNELL
Polly Peachum JO SULLIVAN
Lucy Brown BEATRICE ARTHUR
Jenny LOTTE LENYA
Jackie "Tiger" Brown RICHARD VERNEY
Creative
Direction FRANCESCO VON MENDELSSOHN
Orchestrations KURT WEILL
Scenic Design CLEON THROCKMORTON
Cast
Macheath ROBERT CHISHOLM
Mr. Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum REX WEBER
Mrs. Celia Peachum EVELYN BERESFORD
Polly Peachum STEFFI DUNA
Lucy Brown JOSEPHINE HUSTON
Jenny MARJORIE DILLE
Jackie "Tiger" Brown REX EVANS
MUSICAL NUMBERS
PROLOGUE

The Ballad of Mack the KnifeStreet singer


ACT ONE

Peachum's Morning ChoralPeachum, Mrs Peachum
Instead of SongPeachum, Mrs Peachum
Wedding SongFour Gangsters
Pirate JennyPolly
Cannon SongMacheath, Brown
Love SongPolly, Macheath
Barbara SongPolly
First Threepenny FinalePolly, Peachum, Mrs Peachum


ACT TWO

MelodramaMacheath
Polly's SongPolly
Ballad of Sexual DependencyMrs Peachum
Pimp's Ballad or Tango BalladJenny, Macheath
Ballad of the Pleasant LifeMacheath
Jealousy DuetLucy, Polly
Aria of LucyLucy
Second Threepenny FinaleMacheath, Mrs Peachum, Chorus


ACT THREE

Song of the Insufficiency of Human StrugglingPeachum
Reminiscence
Solomon SongJenny
Call from the GraveMacheath
Grave InscriptionMacheath
Walk to GallowsPeachum
Third Threepenny FinaleBrown, Mrs Peachum, Peachum, Macheath, Polly, Chorus

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SIGHTS & SOUNDS

2006 Broadway Production
Artworks/ Posters

Alan Cumming, Cyndi Lauper and 2006 Broadway revival company perform "The Ballad of the Pimp" on the Tony Awards.

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Check back later when the music for The Threepenny Opera becomes available.
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