Three Penny Opera at the Atlantic Theater


Two solid hours of music sung by excellent singer-actors and a terrific seven-piece band playing the original Kurt Weill score and orchestration with book and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht. What could be better? Remember “Mack the Knife,” “Pirate Jenny” and, of course, the “Ballad of Sexual Dependency”?–they’re all there.

F. Murray Abraham heads the singing cast, and sings pretty well himself, too.

f murray abraham(Source: broadwayworld.com)

As this was a preview, we knew it would be polished further before the opening, but it’s a good production that services this great work well.

The Atlantic Theater’s home is in a Gothic Revival building on West 20th Street,

outside atlantic theaterconverted from a church into a 199-seat house.

door atlanticInside is a small box office

inside atlantic

and downstairs a little cafe

cafe atlanticwhose main decor is formed by its Wall of Honor listing many of the familiar supporters of New York theater.

supporter wall 2

Although this was only a preview, it was sold out and prior to showtime, we had the usual crush from the audience, eager to hear this 1928 musical theater masterpiece.

pre-show audienceThe Atlantic Acting Company was founded in 1983 by playwright David Mamet and actor William H. Macy. (atlantictheater.org)

macy and mamet(Source: npr.org) Today, it is a professional ensemble of experienced talented actors that go from Mamet’s adaptation of The Voysey Inheritance (which we saw)

voyseyprod460(Source: playbill.com) to new plays such as Our New Girl by Nancy Harris.The Atlantic Acting School, founded by Mamet and Macy,  “offers in-depth training in Mamet and Macy’s unique and influential approach to acting: Practical Aesthetics, the Atlantic Technique.” (atlantictheater.org)

We were thrilled that they decided to tackle Three Penny Opera, often produced only in large houses or by opera companies, and it works well in this little theater. We had previously seen a production mounted in Studio 54 starring the excellent Alan Cumming with a new and bawdier translation by Wallace Shawn.

alan cumming(Source: nytimes.com) We liked it but nobody else did. Atlantic’s production is the Marc Blitzstein adaptation and it still works. It is pleasant to remember how this show and its creators outlasted the Nazi barbarians who forced Brecht and Weill to leave Germany.

I can’t report any discount tickets and the price is $75, but with a big cast and musicians, it’s understandable. Besides, compare it to Broadway prices for a musical and it looks really cheap. Member tickets are only $35 each and supporting this organization is a pleasure. You can also invest three pennies in the lottery and take your chance on a pair of $.03 tickets for each performance. Go to https://atlantictheater.org/3pennytix/ to find out how.

Bulldog-RomeoLawnW(Source: ahscares.org) Cast member Romeo, former rescue, has an important non-speaking role.

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