Theatre conservatory puts on a new twist for Threepenny Opera

By Kristin McKee
Torch Correspondent

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Threepenny Opera Stage. Photo by Kristin McKee

The Chicago College of Performing Arts’ theatre conservatory staged their production of The Threepenny Opera at the O’Malley Theater the weekend of Oct. 5-8.

According to the official website for the show, Threepenny Opera is declared as “an opera for beggars” that satirizes traditional opera and operetta. It also makes an attempt to establish a new approach to musical theatre based on the theories of two German artists, composer Kurt Weill and poet-playwright Bert Becht.

Seven street-singing women introduce this English adaptation of the show with “Ballad of Mack the Knife,” a song exposing the many felonies of the bandit Macheath (portrayed by student Conor Jordan). Polly Peachum (portrayed by Tatiana Bustamante) marries Macheath in secret knowing her parents would disapprove. Mr. J.J. Peachum (portrayed by student David LLoyd Houston) and his wife Celia (portrayed by student Maya Rowe) seek to have Macheath hanged and, after several hindered attempts, eventually gets him arrested and sentenced to forenamed hanging. In a sudden turn of events, Macheath is pardoned by the Queen moments before the execution and is granted a castle and pension.

As the original script is set in Victorian London, the conservatory put their own twist to the script. They added in elements of modern-day Chicago all students should be familiar with by now such as repeated mentions of Wabash Avenue. The conservatory also squeezed in a few political jabs, making subtle Donald Trump references that was not so subtle at all to the well-informed audience.

This twist in the story was an excellent idea on the conservatory’s part as it kept the audience more engaged with the events of the show. It brought a better understanding to the ideas of capitalism, brutality, and values the actors conveyed with ultimate grace and maturity.

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