Medicine Show Theatre Ensemble, one of New York's longest-running experimental theatres, premieres its production of The Beggar's Opera, the original source of The Threepenny Opera in less than three weeks. The production opens tonight, April 27 and closes Saturday, May 19. Performances are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays and Wednesdays at 7 p.m., with an additional performance Tuesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. There are no performances on Mondays, Thursdays or any other Tuesday.
Medicine Show artistic director, Obie-award winner Barbara Vann directs, she will also play Mrs. Traipse. Besides Vann, the cast includes Harrison Beck, Mark J. Dempsey, Sarah Engelke, Howah Hung, Richard Gross, James Harter, Richard Keyser, Joyce Laoagan, Eva Mastrangelo, Eva Nicole, Justin Quackenbush, Nishi Rajan and Heather Ruiz.
The Beggar's Opera is considered the best example of all satirical operas. English composer John Gay wrote the piece in 1728, setting traditional Scottish, English and French folk tunes to his hilarious texts. Two hundred years later Bertolt Brecht translated the work into German and renamed it The Threepenney Opera, but followed Gay's plot and characters, like MacHeath and Polly Peachum, closely. "This production will take us on a musical journey from folk to baroque," Vann said. "And it's much funnier than Threepenny," she added, "we hear it in the original English, rather than going from English to German and back to English again."
The piece is relevant to today's society as well. "It's about how criminals and the justice system pay each other off to keep the balance," Vann explained, pointing out Gay's epitaph that says, "Life is a jest, and all things show it, I thought so once, and now I know it."
Medicine Show's last musical garnered rave reviews. The Travalanche website called Cole Porter's Paris "funny and farcical" and Talent in Motion magazine said, "We loved the show."
The theatre is located at 549 W. 52nd Street, 3rd Floor, near 11th Ave., subway C/E 50th St.
Tickets are $18.00 for general admission, $14.00 for seniors and students. They are available from Smarttix at www.Smarttix.com or (212) 868-4444. For more information, log onto the company's website at www.MedicineShowTheatre.org.