Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Not Bobby Darin!

On Sunday afternoon I saw The Three Penny Opera at Studio 54. My first impression was that the former nightclub known for its debauchery was the perfect venue for this production. The principals were all well-known names - Alan Cumming, Jim Dale, Ana Gasteyer, Nellie McKay and Cindy Lauper. It was deep and disgusting, yet I couldn't look away. It reminded me of something that Tim Burton might have created. Cindy Lauper sang the opening number "Mac the Knife" - not the Bobby Darin classic we know - but a slow and low telling of what was to come. The costumes were shocking but fitting - everything from a Wednesday Addams look-alike (Maureen Moore) to a drag queen with nothing on underneath. The sets were minimal. The most prominent role the set played was with huge neon signs that were like the red light district of the Times Square adult video shops. Alan Cumming played Macheath, i.e. Mac the Knife - this was not daring casting. A friend of mine describes Alan as always looking like he has been dipped in oil and rubbed in pubic hair. He was the "captain" and his followers would do anything he said - indulging in depravity at his will. His opponents were played brilliantly by Jim Dale and Ana Gasteyer as Mr. Peachum and Mrs. Peachum. Mac marries their daughter Polly Peachum, played by Nellie McKay with a Mary Pickford sweetness. The Peachums, leaders of the beggars are equally low but consider themselves above Mac's type. Cindy Lauper plays Jenny, the madame who ultimately betrays Mac - Cindy was lowly and perfect in the role - she brought sadness to Jenny's character and was perfect in the love-hate foil with Mac. I daresay that it reminded me of a Passion Play. It is hard for me to commit to saying that I liked this show. I did and I didn't. It was disturbing and not the usual lighter fare I go for, but I was completely engaged in it.

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