By Adelina Fabiano
Tackling a script by the famous German playwright Bertolt Brecht and captivating score by Kurt Weill is not an easy feat. However, the UC Follies‘s current presentation of The Threepenny Opera at the University of Torontoâ€™s Hart House Theatre, proves to be daring andÂ ambitious.
Adapted from an 18th century English ballad opera, John Grayâ€™s The Beggarâ€™s Opera, Brechtâ€™s Threepenny Opera, is a commentary on the 20th century capitalist world in Victorian London. This bawdy and dark musical comedy takes a look at Londonâ€™s sleazy underworld and the plight of the oppressed poor.
Poetically written both in language and musical composition, showcasing entertaining musical numbers, this political satire will leave you humming many of the tunes long after the show.
The show opens with Peachumâ€™s Morning Hymn, and â€œThe â€˜No They Canâ€™tâ€™ Songâ€ performed by Chris Valdivia and Alicia Kapudag as Mr. and Mrs. Peachum. Kapudag is charming and comical as Mrs. Peachum Â whose Â mezzo-soprano voice, mannerisms and overall characterization kept me enthralled the whole time. Valdivia is also interesting to watch as the shady and wacky â€œbusiness manâ€ who controls the beggars of London and endeavours to have Mac, his daughterâ€™s husband, sentenced to death.
Michael-David Blostein was charismatic and menacing in the role of â€œMac the Knife.â€ Â Â The fact that all the ladies would find his â€œbad boyâ€ image so alluring was convincing. His baritone voice captured my attention and was a good contrast to Polly Peachumâ€™s lovely and soft soprano voice played by Nicole Stawikowski.
I especially enjoyed the final number in Act 1, “The Ballad of Immoral Earnings,” performed by Mac the Knife and Low-dive Jenny played by Sarah Thorpe. Thorpe was seductive and strong both in movement, acting and in voice. The chemistry between Mac and Jenny was quite believable.
As the Radio Broadcaster to the side of the stage, Tim Ziegler carried the plot forward introducing the upcoming musical numbers with just the right amount of humour and sarcasm.
Directed by Viridi Odern, and choreographed by Shakir Haq, the action from scene to scene seemed to move at just the right speed. Shakir Haqâ€™s choreography was appropriate to the time-period and well complimented the jazzy cabaret influence in the musical score.
The set well represented Londonâ€™s underground scene with one part of the stage cleverly used as Macâ€™s jail cell and the other side used as the Peachumâ€™s home, and the beggars’ quarters.
The entire ensemble of players was quite strong although at times I found myself struggling to hear lyrics and lines delivered by actors.
Showcasing fine acting, singing, musical direction, biting dialogue and comical characters, UC Follies’s The Threepenny Opera is overall a very good revival of classical musical theatre.
-UC Follies will be presenting The Threepenny Opera at Hart House Theatre from February 3rd, 2011 until February 12th, 2011, located at the University of Toronto, 7 Hart House Circle (Just NW of Wellesley and Queenâ€™s Park, a five minute walk south of Museum Subway).
-Show times for week one include Thurs-Sat at 8pm and week two from Wed-Sat at 8pm with a Saturday matinee at 2pm.
-Ticket prices range from $20 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. $16 group rates (10 or more) are also available.
Photograph of cast taken by Sarah Blostein