Futuristic "Threepenny Opera" at LCC

Feb 17, 2016

“The Threepenny Opera” is coming to Lansing Community College this weekend. Scott Pohl previews this production of the musical.

An ambitious Lansing Community College production of The Threepenny Opera by playwright Bertolt Brecht opens for five performances at LCC’s Dart Auditorium on Friday night.

The musical takes place during the year 2065 – a unique take on the play that Brecht originally wrote in 1928. 

“People have played around with this before; certainly I’m not the first,” says director Connie Curran-Oesterle. “But we decided to take it to the future with a steampunk feel for the costumes and set.”

The Threepenny Opera tells the story of Captain Macheath, better known as Mack the Knife. 

Zachary Riley, who plays the cutthroat womanizer, had never heard of the play before he auditioned for the role. 

 “This is the first I’ve heard of Brecht,” says Zachary Riley. “It’s been a wonderful experience, opening up a new avenue of theater that has broadened my horizons.”

The music of The Threepenny Opera plays an important role in the production. Hesitant to call the show an opera, Curran-Oesterle instead prefers to call it “a play with music”.

“I tailor these musicals to the cast and the talent on stage,” says John Dale Smith, director of music for the show. “I kept reminding the cast that I didn’t want them to sing like they heard on the CDs.”

Many audience members will recognize Mack the Knife’s self-titled theme song. Everyone from Bing Crosby to Michael Buble has covered the tune originally penned by Kurt Weill.

“I hope there’s a large portion [of the audience] that say ‘Oh wait…Mack the Knife! I know that song and I like it!” says Curran-Oesterle.

Even though this version of the play is set 137 years after the original, Curran-Oesterle says the (somewhat depressing) message of the show remains the same.

“There’s a lot of conflict of interest – a lot of corruption at all levels,” says Curran-Oesterle. “Everyone takes from everyone. It doesn’t matter how poor you are, there’s always somebody above willing to take from you. That’s the story.”

Article by Ethan Merrill, Current State Web Intern