“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
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.
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).
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.
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
52 West 6th Street
Santa Rosa, CA
(707) 523-4185 ext. 1