Mack the Knife will show his teeth in San Francisco in the form of Philip Casnoff Sept. 2 when American Conservatory Theatre begins previews for the landmark musical, The Threepenny Opera.
Casnoff has the choice role of Macheath in the 1928 Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht collaboration, officially opening Sept. 8 with a star-dotted cast including Bebe Neuwirth (Sweet Charity, Chicago) as Jenny Diver and Nancy Dussault (Do Re Mi, Bajour) as Mrs. Peachum. (Malcolm Gets, of Off-Broadway's A New Brain and TV's "Caroline in the City," was originally announced as Macheath, but left due to personal reasons).
Casnoff is best known for his roles in Chess and Shogun: The Musical. He's also worked at the Public Theater, the Long Wharf Theatre and Circle in the Square.
The ACT company also includes Lisa Vroman as Lucy Brown, Anika Noni Rose as Polly, Charles Lanyer as Tiger Brown, Dan Hiatt as Constable Smith and a 22-member ensemble culled from ACT's graduate acting program. Performances continue to Oct. 10. There are currently no plans for the production beyond the ACT staging at the Geary Theatre, according to a spokesperson, although the stars are sure to earn the attention of some independent producers.
Threepenny Opera begins the ACT season, which also offers the premiere of David Hirson's Broadway-bound comedy, Wrong Mountain. Carey Perloff, artistic director of ACT, directs The Threepenny Opera, with choreography by Luis Perez, a former Joffrey Ballet Company member. English translation is by Michael Feingold.
Neuwirth, an alum of the Broadway revivals of Chicago, Damn Yankees and Sweet Charity (and TV's "Cheers") gets the choice role of Jenny Diver in the landmark 1928 musical by Brecht and Weill. The jazz-flecked yarn based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728), weaves a tale of lusty passion and political corruption and features classic songs such as "The Ballad of Mack the Knife," "Pirate Jenny," "Soldiers' Song," and "Tango Ballad."
Dussault, who appeared on Broadway in Do Re Mi, Bajour, Side by Side by Sondheim and as one of the witches in Into the Woods, became known for her role as Muriel on TV's "Too Close For Comfort." She'll play Mrs. Peachum opposite ACT actor Steven Anthony Jones as Mr. Peachum.
For information, call (415) 749-2228.
-- By Kenneth Jones
and David Lefkowitz