F. Murray Abraham has gotten into an Off-Broadway rhythm in recent years. A little Ethan Coen play at the Atlantic Theater Company (Almost an Evening), and a little more Ethan Coen at the same theatre (Offices). Then some Brecht at CSC, playing the title role in Galileo. A trip down memory lane with Terrence McNally's Golden Age at Manhattan Theatre Club — in the 1970s the actor appeared in multiple McNally works, including the Broadway hit The Ritz. And this spring, back to the Atlantic and back to Brecht, as part of the ensemble in director Martha Clarke's new interpretation of The Threepenny Opera.
Not only is he in the cast, but Abraham's convinced that, as Peachum — the petty crime lord who controls London's beggars — he's as close to being the show's Brecht as possible. "I'm sure my voice is the voice of the man in charge," he said. "I'm sure that Peachum is Brecht. The statements are so exactly his philosophy, so precisely what he thinks."
He finds Brecht a challenge, particularly the author's discursive, presentational songs, of which he delivers four in Threepenny. "I think you have to have a real feel for it," he said. "The Galileo I did a couple years ago, it was hard, the way he chases ideas. It's really tough to get the thing together. It was a big surprise to me, because I'm a very quick study. And I was having trouble balancing the whole thing. One idea was never enough for the character."
"I've always felt that way," he explained. "I still feel that way. I can't imagine why you'd do it otherwise. I'm no spring chicken, but I still feel an amazing energy."