Sun | Mar 18, 2018

'Threepenny Opera' at Cineplex on Sunday

Published:Friday | December 2, 2016 | 12:00 AM
A scene from the The Threepenny Opera.
Rosalie Craig (Polly Peachum) in The Threepenny Opera.


The Threepenny Opera, which declares itself "an opera for beggars", was produced by two young Germans, composer Kurt Weill and poet/playwright Bert Brecht, as a satire on traditional opera and operetta as well as to revolutionise musical theatre. Evidently influenced by Germany's economic depression in the 1920s the play, which offers a socialist critique of the capitalist world, was declared the biggest hit in Berlin of the 1920s, and had a revitalising influence on the musical genre worldwide.

The National Theatre's presentation is to be shown at the Palace Cineplex on Sunday.

The musical was also inspired by and earlier work, The Beggar's Opera, a parody of Handel's operas, written in 1728 by English poet and dramatist John Gay. Songs from The Threepenny Opera have been widely covered and become standards across the globe. Most notable is Mack the Knife, performed and recorded by musical greats such as Louis Armstrong in 1956, Bobby Darin in 1959 (earning him three Grammy Awards Song of the Year, Best New Artist, and Best Vocal Performance by a Male), Ella Fitzgerald (1968), Frank Sinatra (1984), and Michael Buble (2001).

Sting famously starred in the 1989 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera and performed Mack the Knife.

Pirate Jenny, another renowned song from the musical, was recorded by Nina Simone on her Nina Simone in Concert album of 1964. Simone said she used the story within the song as a metaphor for the state of civil rights at that time.


Comical take


The National Theatre's version is a comic take on Brecht and Weill's raucous musical, done in collaboration with Elisabeth Hauptmann in a new adaptation by Simon Stephens.

In a world where everyone's on the take, naughty fun, strong language and musical favourites are in store for mature audiences only.

In the tale, Mack the Knife is back in town. London scrubs up for the coronation. The thieves are on the make, the whores on the pull, the police are cutting deals to keep it all out of sight. Mr and Mrs Peachum are looking forward to a bumper day in the business of begging, but their daughter didn't come home last night and it's all about to kick off.

The cast includes Olivier Award winner Rory Kinnear (Hamlet, Othello, James Bond), as Macheath, Rosalie Craig (As You Like It, My Family and Other Animals) as Polly Peachum, and Haydn Gwynne (The Windsors, Drop the Dead Donkey) as Mrs Peachum. This bold, anarchic production is adapted by Simon Stephens, (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) and directed by Rufus Norris, (Everyman, London Road). Tickets are on sale at the box office of the Palace Cineplex and via the web at, with a Palace Card or any major credit card.