Scott Merrill, who played the lead role of Macheath in the legendary 1954 Off-Broadway production of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera, died on June 28 in Branford, CT, according to the New York Times. He was 82. Threepenny Opera opened at the Theatre de Lys (now the Lucille Lortel) on March 10, 1954. It was an immediate hit and became Off- Broadway's first long-running show, playing 2,611 performances, and is widely regarded as one of the first landmark productions of the then just starting Off-Broadway movement. The show's success was also significant, since the Brecht-Weill work has flopped when it first premiered on Broadway in 1933.
Mr. Merrill starred alongside Lotte Lenya as Pirate Jenny, Jo Sullivan as Polly Peachum, Beatrice Arthur as Lucy Brown, Jane Connell as Mrs. Peachum and John Astin as Readymoney Matt. Merrill was nominated for a Tony Award as best actor in a musical. At the time, the Tonys had not eliminated Off-Broadway shows from competing for the awards.
A few years later, Mr. Merrill starred on Broadway opposite Tallulah Bankhead in Randolph Carter's Eugenia. His Broadway debut was in Oklahoma!. Other credits of this period include a fair share of legendary musicals, including Lady in the Dark, Guys and Dolls, Bloomer Girl, Paint Your Wagon and Pal Joey.
Mr. Merrill was born and raised in Baltimore. Diagnosed with diabetes as a child, the doctor recommended dancing lessons. He soon enrolled and took his first step on the road that led him to his eventual profession. He attended Baltimore City College.
—By Robert Simonson