Threepenny Opera a macabre musical thrill

In her contemporary Gothic version of Bertolt Brecht's "The Threepenny Opera," performed from Nov. 5 to 9, professor and director Melanie Blood sheds a new light, or rather, darkness on the classic production.

The play, which first premiered in 1928, is set in modern Washington, D.C. where the economically ravaged and politically corrupt city is stricken by the rampant crime and love affair of gangster "Mack the Knife" MacHeath, played by senior Daniel Carroll.

Junior Mary Elizabeth Kimbark, who plays a whore and street singer said, "It's different than anything we've ever done. It's a blast."

The production goes beyond the walls of the Alice Austin Theatre with its politically current over-tones commenting on everything from SUNY Budget cuts to Bristol Palin, the pregnant 17-year-old daughter of Sarah Palin.

The play calls for high audience interaction and, according to assistant stage manager sophomore Courtney Wheater, "breaks down the fourth wall and makes the show more accessible."

Various actors introduce the different scenes while polling the audience on their favorite characters. They beg viewers to participate in decision-making for the performance.

Carroll's MacHeath is brilliant; his creepy misogynistic theatrics come to life as he juggles onstage lovers who add rich dark layers to the archetypal manipulated woman.

Both the department and cast seem to be grateful for the dominant female parts. According to stage manager senior Kathryn Starczewski, "Many productions are geared towards predominantly male roles and it is nice that this show gives females a place to showcase their talent."

Kimbark, as well as freshman Chloe Holgate and seniors Sarah Rychlik, Natalie Mack and Norma Butikofer all have significant roles in the play, giving them enough stage time to truly develop their characters.

Serious topics imbedded in the script and music address socio-economic issues, murder, rape and abortion. Morality is addressed in some way by every character, forcing the audience to examine their own values as well as those presented throughout the play.

"The Threepenny Opera" exudes entertainment value. The eerie music and sexually driven dance routines are engaging and fun to watch. Although some characters are notably flat, they eventually come together adding a light comedic appeal to the show.

Butikofer's character is pregnant and barely manages to stumble across the stage in her Gothic mini dress and four inch heels. The costumes designed by professor Crystal Ferrell include tattoos, fishnets, and knee-high boots.

The set is simple but includes an orchestra on stage that at times further breaks down the fourth wall by interacting with the characters.

"'The Threepenny Opera' is in your face and a lot of fun," said Junior Michael Radi, who plays the role of police commissioner Tiger Brown.

The production's wide appeal, meaningful themes and entertainment value should prove to be a long-remembered production in Geneseo's repertoire. For ticket and show time information, visit