The Threepenny Opera comes to town

Published 04 September 2012

The UNE School of Arts is collaborating with the Armidale-based Felt Tip Theatre Company to present The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. Directed by UNE graduate Alex Robson, the production is intended to engage on-campus music and theatre students with professional practice.

Felt Tip was founded last year by Alex and fellow UNE graduate Christopher Curcuruto, and whilst this is only their second full-scale production, it is the latest project in a long line of productions, including several play readings and a staged adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens as a fundraiser for the Armidale Dumaresq Civic Precinct.

Written in 1928, The Threepenny Opera is a critique on the perceived evils of capitalist society that the playwright experienced in pre-Nazi Germany. Alex describes the piece as a “play with music”, for whilst the actors sporadically sing, it is not a musical in the conventional sense, nor, despite the title, is it an opera.

Based on John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, Brecht’s play is about the exploits of the infamous bandit Captain Macheath (aka Mac the Knife) who weds in secret Polly Peachum, the daughter of a man whose business it is to sell outfits and licences to ‘professional’ beggars. Mr Peachum sees the marriage of his daughter as a hostile taker-over bid, and seeks to have Macheath executed by turning his friends – thieves, whores and the chief of police – against him.

Weill’s music was amongst the earliest and most successful examples of the jazz idiom being incorporated into theatre. Alex said: “The music is extraordinary, with a distinct flavour of the Berlin cabaret and jazz bars of the 1920s.” The perennially popular ‘Ballad of Mac the Knife’, sung by such artists as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Buble, Sting and Cyndi Lauper, is taken from this play. Felt Tip’s production will be under the baton of Bruce Menzies.

The cast is made up largely of UNE alumni, students and staff members, including Christopher (Mac the Knife), Ewan Patterson (Mr Peachum), Jessica Lanham (Polly), William Smidt (Tiger Brown), Charlie Wright (Lucy), as well as Jobi Strike, Jeremy Stibbard, Peter Newman, Luke Marlow, Michael Cornford, Elsie Baker, Josh Osborne, Marney Tilley and Dr. Karin von Strokirch. Lighting is being designed by Theatre student Emily Waldron, and costumes by Prof. Margaret Sims; Margaret having so successfully worked with Felt Tip on The Importance of Being Earnest.

The Threepenny Opera is being staged at the A1 Arts Theatre on the 7th, 8th, 13th, 14th and 15th of September at 7:30pm, with one matinee on the 15th at 2pm. The theatre will be open half an hour before the show, with refreshments available before and after the performances. Tickets cost $25 for adults, $20 for students/concessions, and $15 for children, and are available online by following the link at, or at Black Dot Music. For any inquiries, feel free to contact Felt Tip via email at