The departments of music and theatre collaborate to present The Threepenny Opera. The play, written in 1928 with music based on John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill in collaboration with Elisabeth Hauptmann, is a musical and a play, with a director for each.
The production is co-directed by visiting assistant professor of theatre Annette Thornton and voice instructor Kevin N. Wines, and is accompanied by the Denison Wind Ensemble conducted by Christopher Westover-Muñoz.
Allie O’Connor ’23, a double major in educational studies and psychology with a minor in music performance, is one of the performers playing Mrs. Peachum. She says the collaboration adds a new perspective for many who have worked on musicals in the past.
“The directors come at it with different viewpoints on how to tackle the scene,” she said. O’Connor’s background is in musicals and vocal performance. The show will feature plenty of music, including classic songs like Mack the Knife, but this “opera” is more of a satirical knock at the concept of opera being for the upper class, so in that sense, it’s not traditional and behaves more like a play with music.
Additionally, The Threepenny Opera naturally requires a more operatic vocal style, which presents a new challenge for O’Connor.
“It’s different than anything I’ve done,” she said. “I’m excited to explore a different side of my voice.”
The Threepenny Opera, officially described as “a play with music”; is a biting satire of capitalism, wrapped up in Kurt Weill’s jazzy score, and the tale of Macheath, a debonair crime lord on the verge of turning his illegal empire into a legitimate business. Set in 1902, the Vitorian era, it touches on today’s social themes. “The point is that it can happen anywhere,” O’Connor said.
Songs from Threepenny Opera have become classic standards, including Pirate Jenny, and most notably, Mack the Knife, which has been covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Michael Bublé.
The music and theatre department collaboration makes the show unique. It will serve as an exciting and challenging send-off for O’Connor as this will be the last performance of her college career.
The Threepenny Opera
Sharon Martin Hall, Eisner Center
April 14 & 15, at 8 p.m.; April 15 & 16, at 2 p.m.
Free and open to the public however tickets are required