The Ring Theatre’s fall musical production has arrived and it is darker than anything UM theatre students have done before. From Friday, Nov. 10 to Saturday, Nov. 18, the UM community can catch the live performance of “The Threepenny Opera,” with a free showing for students on Thursday, Nov. 16.
This “play with music” tells the story of powerful crime lord Macheath (Mack the Knife) who marries the beautiful Polly Peachum. When her father finds out, he becomes furious and uses his political influence to get London beggars to help imprison Macheath.
Viewers can expect social commentary about the post World War I era, the effects of capitalism on societal structures and the treatment of the impoverished class.
“It examines the clear inequities within the treatments of the impoverished and how as a society, those with money are able to get away with anything,” said Christian Miller, a senior musical theatre BFA student who plays the Balladeer/Reverend. In the production, Miller sings the iconic song “Mack the Knife” to open the show.
The theatre department also brought in guest director Michael Jenkinson — who previously directed the Ring’s rendition of “Cabaret” — for this production. Jenkinson’s extensive choreography experience paired with his directing led to a special production where dance and movement captivated audiences.
While this semester’s previous production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” had a smooth rehearsal process, the same cannot be said for “The Threepenny Opera.”
“It’s very tough material, both in quality and in content… It’s taken quite a lot of time and energy to put together,” Miller said.
The production’s creative team altered the show to allow more students to participate. An ensemble of background characters, composed of sophomore musical theatre students, make up an orchestra and spin a unique take on the classical show.
Sasha Lippis, a musical theatre BFA senior who plays Jenny Diver, feels that the ensemble adds a great deal to the show.
“I think they do a great job of creating the world that we are living in in this musical,” Lippis said. “They sound amazing and have worked so hard to build these characters from scratch.”
Though the production process has proved difficult at times, the cast and crew have enjoyed developing their craft and spending time together during rehearsals.
“I’m having so much fun with my character, and I’ve had a field day with all of the choice[s] and character work I’ve been able to explore,” Miller said.
Max Ilan, a junior musical theatre BFA student who plays Jimmy “Retail,” has had an excellent time working with his talented peers in the theatre department.
“The show was incredibly powerful to work on, and it challenged me in many ways,” Ilan said.
Although “The Threepenny Opera” is heavy in content, the cast urges students to come see the show and expose themselves to something new.
“The greatest part of theatre in an educational setting is that we aren’t really concerned about being commercial — we’re here to tell stories and to learn more about our craft as actors,” Lipis said. “This makes our show really honest, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for audience members.”
Tickets to see “The Threepenny Opera” are available on the Ring Theatre website. Interested students can also call the box office Wednesday through Friday from 12-4 p.m. at 305-284-3355.
Content Warning: This production contains depictions that can be distressing to some viewers, including sexual assault, violence, strong language, drug use and alcohol consumption.
The production uses haze and loud sound effects.