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Mack the Knife is on the loose at Villanova Theatre

Threepenny Opera

VILLANOVA, PA - Villanova Theatre proudly presents The Threepenny Opera, with book and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht, music by Kurt Weill, directed by Valerie Joyce, and on stage April 14-26, 2015. Villanova's reimagined production will feature actors playing instruments, a striking industrial aesthetic, and a timely message.  

A masterpiece of modern theatre, Bertolt Brecht's biting critique of capitalism explodes with colorful characters, gritty London streetscapes, and toe-tapping tunes like "The Ballad of Mack the Knife" and "Pirate Jenny." A sensational spin on the 18th-century The Beggar's Opera, Brecht and Weill's groundbreaking musical tells the tale of Macheath, London's most notorious criminal, as he pursues the woman he loves while dodging the police and London bourgeoisie. Around him an assortment of corrupt characters maneuver for advantage, begging the question: must one be a criminal to survive this world?

The Threepenny Opera launched the legendary career of theatre-maker and theorist Bertolt Brecht and serves as an electrifying reminder of his passion for provocation. Called "the great capitalist joke," The Threepenny Opera is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking, seducing audiences with its catchy melodies while simultaneously reflecting on inequity, corruption, and greed. Brecht invites us to inhabit the rough streets of Victorian London, following the notorious criminal Macheath as he evades rivals, the police, and the women who can't seem to resist his charms. His nemesis Jonathan Peachum runs an outfit shop for beggars, costuming them in tatters and teaching them the tricks of the trade "calculated to touch the human heart." Peachum, upon learning of his daughter Polly's clandestine marriage to Macheath, vows to bring Macheath to justice in time for Queen Victoria's coronation, "the few days in a lifetime when real money can be earned" by his band of beggars. In a world where there are so few good people, a man's worth is measured by his cunning. Will Macheath outwit Peachum? Or will he face the gallows?

Brecht's scathing critique of capitalism is bolstered by Kurt Weill's cabaret-inspired score, which produced the jazz standard "Mack the Knife," widely covered by music greats such as Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. Alongside "Mack the Knife" are other memorable songs such as the dark fantasy "Pirate Jenny," a jab at men's sexual appetites called the "Ballad of Dependency," and the bouncing appraisal of romantic love "Instead Of Song."

At the helm of this dark ride through London's underbelly is Villanova professor Valerie Joyce. According to Joyce, "We've been making some thrilling discoveries in the rehearsal room, particularly about Threepenny's women.  The women in this script can be read as objects of manipulation, but the whole play becomes much more interesting when the women claim autonomy and assert power.  In this production, everyone is angling for their piece of the pie."

A seasoned team of award-winning designers joins Joyce to create a world full of grit and wit. Three-time Barrymore Award-winner Janus Stefanowicz reinterprets Victorian costume in dark detail, bringing the horrors of 19th century poverty to life. Scenic Designer Daniel Boylen returns to Villanova for the second time this season, conjuring a mysterious industrial set that will transform before an audience's eyes from scene to scene. Resident lighting and sound designers Jerold Forsyth and John Stovicek complete this exciting team of artists.

Joyce directs a cast of nearly two dozen,actors bringing the teeming, crowded streets of London to life: acting scholars Stephen Tornetta (Macheath), Mitchell Bloom (Peachum), and Kyle Fennie (Smith); Meghan Winch (Mrs. Peachum), Allyce Morrissey (Polly), Jill Jacobs (Lucy), Megan Rose (Jenny); Christen Mandracchia, Cari Brezina, Mikal Odom (all three of whom will share the role of Street Singer); John K. Baxter (Tiger Brown), John McGraw (Filch), Barry Brait (Reverend Kimball), Brenden Kortenhaus (Crookfinger Jake), Chris Dayett (Readymoney Matt), Chris Monaco (Bob the Saw), Dan Gorman (Walt Dreary), Ebeth Campbell (Molly), Meg Trelease (Betty), Samantha Thompson (Coaxer), Rebecca Jane Cureton (Dolly), and Jim Hawkins (Beggar).

Speaker's Night immediately following the April 23rd performance will feature the director, cast, crew, and special invited guest Villanova University Professor and author Dr. Eugene McCarraher (see full biographical information below).

The Threepenny Opera runs at Villanova Theatre from April 14th-26th, 2015. Villanova Theatre is located on the Villanova University campus in Vasey Hall (at Lancaster & Ithan Aves.). Performances will be held Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets run $21-$25, with discounts available for seniors, students, M.A. in Theatre alumni, and groups. Tickets may be purchased at the Villanova Theatre Box Office (M-S, 12 -5 p.m.) in person, by phone: (610) 519-7474, or online at

About Villanova Theatre: Villanova Theatre is a community of artist-scholars committed to transforming hearts and minds through the visionary production of classical, modern, and contemporary dramatic literature. Our work is fueled by the imaginative striving common to Villanova's accomplished faculty, versatile staff, and energetic graduate students. Together, we are devoted to creating a vibrant theatre enriched by and overflowing with the ideas explored in our classrooms. In all of our endeavors, we aim to share the dynamic experience of collaborative learning with our audiences in order to engage the intellect and stir the soul. As a facet of Villanova University, Villanova Theatre serves the campus community as well as thousands of theatre-goers from the Main Line and the Greater Philadelphia area.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University's Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges - the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.