The Steinbrenner drama program made it very clear with The Threepenny Opera all human endeavors are futile. This epic theatre satire is great; whether the costumes and design, the intricate story adapted from a dense text, or the cast who performed exceptionally well.

This was, as Director Lindsay M. Warfield Painter herself describes it, a “three-year labor of love”: The play was chosen to be Warfield Painter’s master thesis, and has been worked on vicariously.

Caroline Meisner (Polly Peachum) performs "Pirate Jenny" one of many songs she sang during the show.
Caroline Meisner (Polly Peachum) performs “Pirate Jenny” one of many songs she sang during the show.

“I had to choose a play that would be a challenge for our program but also that would benefit our community and school culture,” said Warfield Painter, “It was a huge challenge for me. I’ve been working on it for three years, spending a month working on the script before even going into rehearsals.”

The difficulty of the script came about as it was originally written in German, so it took time to translate it successfully. Thereafter the cast dissected their roles as though in an AP English course to accurately depict them.

“The way the show was casted and knowing it was Ms. Warfield Painter’s master’s thesis made it very well done,” said Nick Petruccelli, “We did a series of exercises that got the cast to where it is.”

The process and time they took to understand the script’s context eases into the portrayals of the characters; the entire troupe fit their roles like gloves.

The play is essentially about a corrupt romance between notorious criminal Macheath (Nick Petruccelli) and Polly Peachum (Caroline Meisner), daughter of an organized beggar’s company. Macheath attempts to marry Polly, leading to a complicated web of events, each showing how Macheath progressively sours as a human. This serves as the commentary on capitalism from a socialist perspective.

“It’s such a social commentary as well as a political commentary,” said Matthew Balkum who plays Jonathan Peachum. “It also has a Marxist twist which translates into the modern era in the United States.”

Nick P (Macheath) and Owen Dee (Sheriff Brown) sing the Song of Heavy Cannon, which is all about their time in the military.
Nick P (Macheath) and Owen Dee (Sheriff Brown) sing the “Song of Heavy Cannon”, which is all about their time in the military.

While Polly is surely convinced of Macheath’s undoubtable love, competition from a jealous Lucy Brown (Allegra Beachy) erupts, while disproval stirs from her parents, Jonathan Peachum (Matthew Balkum) and Celia Peachum (Samantha Rumpeltin). Complications superimpose and unravel a life of a sinner in Macheath, one fraught with betrayal, cheating, and dishonesty, but ironically making the audience cheer for him in all of his ugliness.

The play offers stellar performances by Petruccelli and Meisner as leads, with show stealing roles offered by Balkum and supporting members Owen Dee playing comedic Sheriff Brown and Julia Meeks playing the true love of Macheath’s life Ginny Jenny.

Balkum filled his role considerably, leaving a prominent presence onstage. Dee kept the humor relevant and the audience laughing. Meeks gave an overwhelming job of playing her role, but more importantly, singing incredibly well. Meeks delivered, fighting what appeared to be a strain from previous shows but fighting through.

“I’ve gotten comments that people have seen it four times and find out more about it each time,” said Meisner, “It really is a work of art in this way.” This can be seen by the density of the text itself is very hard to be crystal clear on a single sitting.

Samantha Rumpletin (Celia Peachum), Matthew Balkum (Peachum) and Caroline Meisner (Polly Peachum) have a family discussion about Meisner's love life.
Samantha Rumpaltin (Celia Peachum), Matthew Balkum (Jonathan Peachum) and Caroline Meisner (Polly Peachum) have a family discussion about Meisner’s love life.

The only major drawback was a matter of understanding Lucy Brown’s character, and the context of the play. Lucy’s character is introduced as being pregnant, only I became confused initially, as it wasn’t addressed in the climax or end. After discussing her element in the play with cast members, they explained how she is faking pregnancy, offering a better understanding of her movements and actions.

This production hasn’t seen the end of its course though; it will later be edited as an one act performance. Looking ahead, the theater program hopes to put another production on this year of something entirely opposite of The Threepenny Opera: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

“Theater is the most efficient medium for social change,” said Balkum. “Unknowingly, the audience will be presented with information and leave feeling a certain way about it.”

The show gives audience members a very viable theme to carry, and to think deeper about when the curtains go down.

“[Threepenny] should leave audience questioning their own part in society, and their contributions and views,” said Rumpletin.

Anthony Campbell / Staff Writer

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