Celebrating the centennial birthday of playwright Bertolt Brecht, Chicago's American Theatre Company is producing The Threepenny Opera through Oct. 11. Author/librettist Brecht collaborated with composer Kurt Weill on the piece, which opened Sept. 14.
Threepenny received its world premiere as Die Dreigroschenoper at Berlin's Theatre am Schiffbauerdamm in 1928, making its Broadway debut five years later at the Empire Theatre. Although it had been a huge success in Germany, inspiring a G.W. Pabst film adaptation, American audience took longer to warm to the piece, whose initial run played only twelve performances.
The play-with-music returned to Broadway in 1966 for a limited engagement of thirteen performances in a puppet production by the Stockholm Marionette Theatre, after one of the show's songs "Mack the Knife" had been reborn as a pop-hit by Bobby Darrin.
Another ten years passed until the show became an unqualified hit in 1976 with Lincoln Center's production starring Raul Julia as the killer MacHeath (directed, surprisingly enough, by experimental director Richard Foreman). Which brings us to its last Broadway production, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1989, starring former "Police" frontman and rainforest advocate, Sting.
The American Theatre Company production is helmed by Brian Russell and stars Stef Tovar as MacHeath. Others in the cast include: Tom Geraty, Marty Higginbotham, Jim Leaming, F. David Roth, Ed Kross, John Mohrlein, Michael Curtis, Amie Farrell, Marguerite Hammersley, Jennifer Kern, Melissa Orban, Carey Peters, Suzanne Petri, Amrtie Sanders, and John Sterchi. The American Theatre Company's production of Brecht and Weill's The Threepenny Opera, plays through Oct. 11. For reservations or more information call (773) 929 1031.
-- By Sean McGrath