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Christian Lindsey as Macheath brazenly canoodles with Anna Grossman, who plays Polly, in front of two other suitors: Kaitrin McCoy as Lucy and Kelsey Wymore as Jenny. The Ohio University School of Music’s production of The Threepenny Opera will show at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. (Linsi McCall | Ohio University School of Music)

Musical-esque 'Opera' to take audience to the mean streets of London

You don’t have to travel to Downton Abbey to experience the scandals of London firsthand.

Starting Friday, the Ohio University School of Music will present The Threepenny Opera at the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.

The show, written by Bertolt Brecht with music by Kurt Weill, takes place in the “underbelly of Victorian England.” The story follows a thief and beggar named Macheath who marries a woman whose father controls the beggars of London.

The musical, despite its name, is not actually a traditional opera, staging director Philip Christiansen said. It contains many dialogue-oriented scenes and simplistic music. It has also been translated from German into English.

“It’s not very operatic,” Christiansen said. “It’s very musical theater. It was actually a Broadway show and spent more time in a Broadway theater than in any opera house.”

The cast, which contains eight lead characters, has been rehearsing for about 10 weeks and has had their scripts since November — something that Christiansen said makes the show a better experience.

“We’ve spent a longer rehearsal period than others,” Christiansen said. “That’s allowed students to kind of explore what they’re capable of. They’re settling into certain character choices.”

Those character choices are something that cast member Rachel Carter, who plays a street singer, said she enjoys most about the show.

“I enjoy the creativity of it, and the fact that we have flexibility in our character choices, which in many operas aren’t possible,” Carter said. “If you have a specific female voice type in typical opera, you play certain stock characters. You have to make all your character choices based on that unless you have a really creative director. With this show, voice type isn’t really a factor because ‘high brow’ formal technique is irrelevant.”

Aside from the stretching of character choices, there is also a stretching of setting. The set features multiple layers set at different height levels.

“The set is really awesome — I just have to say that,” said Tiffany Nack, who plays Mrs. Peachum. “While a little daunting at first, climbing on the different levels and being in the constructed atmosphere just makes it more real and adds new perspective.” 

If You Go:

What: The Threepenny Opera

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium

Admission: Free with OU ID, $12 general admission

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