“Threepenny Opera” by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, 6th Street Playhouse, Santa Rosa CA

Reviewed by Greg and Suzanne Angeo

Members, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle

Photos by Eric Chazankin

Cast of Threepenny Opera

Cast of Threepenny Opera

Ol’ Mackie’s Back in Town

Teeming with delightfully seedy characters in a dark underworld, imaginative staging and a truly unique musical score, the Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill classic “Threepenny Opera” at 6th Street is a rare treat for local theatregoers who long for something different.

This satirical ballad opera was first presented in Berlin in 1928 and was intended to be a socialist poke in the eye of the aristocracy and the church. In true Brechtian style, the goal was to not create reality onstage, but rather to inspire alienation and reaction. The music, with its roots in 1920s German cabaret and jazz, is at times discordant but unforgettable, like the characters.

Jerry Lee, Serena Flores

Jerry Lee, Serena Flores

The setting is the Dickensian London of 1838, in the days leading up to Queen Victoria’s coronation, which is referenced in the story. The anti-hero is crime boss and man-about-town Macheath, known as Mack the Knife for reasons that become obvious. Ladies fight over him, friends betray him and his nemesis is his own father-in-law.

The show starts off a bit chaotic and inarticulate but soon finds its footing. There are brilliant and bizarre bits of stagecraft, like one number that uses silhouettes to great effect. The ladies in the cast have very strong voices, especially in one of the show’s highlights, “Jealousy Duet” sung by Molly Larsen (as Polly Peachum) and Allie Nordby (Lucy Brown). Also notable are Eileen Morris (excellent as Polly’s mother) and Robert Rogers (a grand Mr Peachum).

Allie Nordby (center)

Allie Nordby (center)

There is some fine vocal talent on display here, and Jerry Lee infuses his character Mack the Knife with sinister charisma. True, this “Opera” may not be for everyone, but it’s well-conceived and directed by Michael RJ Campbell, who combines inspiration and creativity with the precision of a slightly deranged German clockwork.

Allie Nordby, Jerry Lee, Molly Larsen

Allie Nordby, Jerry Lee, Molly Larsen




When: Now through October 23, 2016

7:30 p.m. Thursdays

8:00 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays

2:00 p.m. Sundays

2:00 p.m. Saturdays: October 15 & 22

Tickets $15 to $38

Where: 6th Street Playhouse, GK Hardt Theatre

52 West 6th Street

Santa Rosa, CA

(707) 523-4185 ext. 1


About the Author

Suzanne AngeoGreg and Suzanne Angeo have been reviewing live theatre as a team since 2010. Greg has over 50 years of professional theatrical training and acting experience in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and New York City. For several years, beginning in 2000, he served as Assistant Artistic Director for the Dominican Players at Dominican University in San Rafael, CA, with Artistic Director Dr. Annette Lust. Suzanne has been writing for most of her life, including essays and articles while serving as newsletter editor for county organizations. She was involved in community theatre, and served on playreading committees and as a script doctor for a number of productions. Suzanne and Greg were members of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle for several years before moving to Michigan, where they continue to review live theatre. Suzanne is currently a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.View all posts by Suzanne Angeo →