Three Penny: New York quick hit number 1

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I’m going to post a couple small items in the next hour or so. Just a few things from our trip to New York last weekend. For starters, I’ll say that Three Penny Opera lived up to our worst expectations. It sucked. The leads had small voices that didn’t project to the rafters; the class and politics theme (so near and dear to Brecht) was downplayed for a new gender theme that transformed Mack into a bi-sexual (and that was necessary because…?) The translation lost the gutteral Germanic monosyllabalism. In its place were lyrics and sentences that seemed passive and soft. (e.g., in the duet between Polly and Lucy who are fighting over Mack there is a moment when the music stops for a beat and the actresses face off and hurl — in unison — an epithet at each other. In the 1976 Joseph Papp production we saw at Lincoln Center, the ladies shouted “Shit Pot!” Here, the translation substitutes “Impossible!”) It is a weakening that does nothing much for the production.)

Anyway, Mrs. Peachum, Ana Gasteyer, has THE voice to listen for. The staging is vaudevillian in that the actors come on, face the audience and sing. That’s about it.

The use of neon signs is ok.

The whole production seems aimed at the lowest common denominator. Wherever they had the chance, whoever made decisions decided to create slapstick instead of finesse.

It may be the production for the times but at a time when class and politics are much on my mind I would have preferred this production to pump that theme up and run with it instead of substituting the more appealing (is it?) gender bending political theme which is soft ball as far as I’m concerned — but which probably will sell tickets.

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andrew wyeth

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