University of Delaware
The wedding feast of Mack, Polly and the Gang in "The Threepenny Opera."

Jan. 19-Feb. 2: 'The Threepenny Opera'

Resident Ensemble Players to present 'The Threepenny Opera'


3:36 p.m., Jan. 14, 2013--“You have to be a sinner to survive: it’s wickedness that keeps mankind alive.” Or so says Mack the Knife, one of theatre’s most legendary sinners. The Threepenny Opera, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s legendary play with music, will be presented by the Resident Ensemble Players (REP) Jan. 17 through Feb. 2 and spotlights Mack and his host of motley sinners as it asks the question: “Who is the bigger criminal, the man who robs a bank or the man who founds one?” 

Women and money are Mack’s passion and his downfall. While still entangled with Lucy Brown, daughter of the chief of police, Mack marries Polly Peachum, the daughter of the man who organizes the beggars of London. Mr. Peachum wants Mack dead, and old friend Chief Brown wants him protected. Mack’s former love, Jenny, can’t stay away but ultimately betrays him.

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The Threepenny Opera was created early in Brecht’s career, before he really began to revolutionize the way we use music and all these other elements in the theatre,” says Matthew Earnest, director of the production. “The play uses bold strokes and choices and is immensely timely in its criticism of capitalism and the deceit and exploitation in the world of business, particularly as we all claw our way out of this most recent Great Recession.”

The REP production takes the audience through a decadent romp of Brecht’s seamy underworld of hoodlums and whores. Earnest (who directed the REP’s 2011 production of Way to Heaven) and scenic/costume designer Mathew Lefebvre create a post-industrial atmosphere that contrasts with Weill’s lush jazz-inspired score. A reclaimed wood floor, a two-story wall of beggar clothing and a multitude of found objects reflect Brecht’s themes of capitalism, corruption, and counterfeit social mores. 

The Threepenny Opera is not a traditional opera, nor a musical theatre production. Weill’s score is heavily influenced by the cabaret music of 1920s Berlin. The work is something wholly unique, giving the theatre the iconic The Ballad of Mack the Knife, as well as the Cannon Song, and Pirate Jenny.

Performances run from Saturday, Jan. 19, through Saturday, Feb. 2, with preview performances on Thursday, Jan. 17, and Friday, Jan. 18. Tickets are $21-$27, with discounts for students, seniors and University of Delaware faculty and staff. 

Tickets can be purchased online at the REP website or by calling the REP box office at 302-831-2204, or in person at the Roselle Center for the Arts, 110 Orchard Rd., Newark, Monday through Friday from noon until 5 p.m.

The performance schedule for The Threepenny Opera is as follows: Jan. 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, and 31 and Feb. 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 20, 26, and 27 and Feb. 2 at 2 p.m.

Prior to the 2 p.m. performance on Saturday, Jan. 26, is the REP Prologue, a free and informal 20-minute presentation about the production, designed to enhance patrons’ enjoyment and understanding of what they are about to experience. A talk-back with the cast will take place following the evening performance on Thursday, Jan. 24.

The Roselle Center for the Arts is located at 110 Orchard Road, on the corner of Orchard Road and Kent Way. A convenient parking garage is attached to the center.

A complete schedule, directions, and information on purchasing tickets can be found at the REP’s website or by calling the REP’s box office at 302-831-2204.

Photos by Nadine Howatt

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