Sixty years after Marc Blitzstein’s epoch-making English adaptation of Weill, Brecht and Hauptmann’s Dreigroschenoper opened at the Theater de Lys (now the Lucille Lortel Theatre) in Greenwich Village, the Atlantic’s new off-Broadway production moves in for the spring at the Linda Gross Theater, less than a mile uptown. Approved by Lenya, who played Jenny in the original production, Blitzstein’s adaptation was for twenty years the English version of the work, and it has retained popularity even as other translators have made their mark. The Atlantic production honors Blitzstein’s achievement as well as that of Weill, Brecht, and Hauptmann, whose work continues to spark new interpretations while maintaining audience loyalty around the world in its 85th anniversary season.
The Atlantic staging boasts many headliners. The principal cast: F. Murray Abraham (Peachum), Lilli Cooper (Lucy Brown), Rick Holmes (Tiger Brown), John Kelly (Street Singer), Sally Murphy (Jenny), Laura Osnes (Polly), Michael Park (Macheath), and Mary Beth Peil (Mrs. Peachum). Music director Gary Fagin has had a long and fruitful engagement with Weill and Brecht, including several conducting credits and an edition of Happy End. The performance will be led by choreographer/director Martha Clarke, known both for her work in dance–American Ballet Theatre, Rambert Dance Company, The Martha Graham Company, and many more–and for evocative stagings at English National Opera, New York City Opera, Glimmerglass, and the Munich Bienniale. Clarke’s innovative approach, which re-envisions and combines elements traditionally segregated into dance, opera, and theater, will undoubtedly bring out new dimensions of this familiar work.
Rehearsal photos (Broadway World)
Production photo gallery (Atlantic Theater)
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“I’ve never heard a Threepenny production that was better sung or played . . . this small-scale production, for all its polite polish, is far more to the point than the Roundabout Theatre Company’s glammed-up 2006 Broadway revival.”
–Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal
“Broadway has had two big disappointing attempts at this mother of all alienation dramas in recent memory — once with Sting in 1989, the other with Alan Cumming in 2006. But not until the Atlantic Theater Company’s new intimate version, directed and choreographed by image-visionary Martha Clarke, have we had a high-profile Threepenny that captures the pleasures and critiques of corruption, subversions and debauchery without feeling like a post-decadence fashion show.”
–Linda Winer, Newsday
“Diverse staging ranges from sprightly (a group of beggars indoctrinates a new member in their deceptive arts), to vaudevillian (inept sleeping cops unwittingly aid a jailbreak) while allowing pauses for poignant renditions of dark and often abrasive ballads. Clarke provides a memorably dissolute, languid scene wherein scantily-clad prostitutes, occasionally nude, drift around in slow motion while listlessly servicing customers in their brothel . . . Clarke’s presentation of the Brecht-Weill classic may be more dreamlike and less harsh than other New York productions have been, but retains the essential core of dark humor that softens the bleak heart of this musical.”
–Jennifer Farrar, Associated Press
Round-up of reviews on Broadway World