The Threepenny Opera

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The Threepenny Opera BSL Synopsis

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Presented by The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, Nottingham Playhouse, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Graeae Theatre Company.

By Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill

English translation of the dialogue by Robert David MacDonald
English translation of the lyrics by Jeremy Sams

Original German text based on Elisabeth Hauptmann’s German Translation of John Gay’s THE BEGGAR’S OPERA

Imagine a world where evil goes unpunished, money is corrupt, the law is fickle and lowly souls remain on the poverty line. London's most notorious criminal, Macheath, has recently married Polly, the daughter of Jonathan Peachum, leader of the beggars.

Mr Peachum is so displeased that he concocts a plan to have his new son-in-law hanged. Through a deceitful web of blackmail, bribery and brothels, Macheath is eventually caught and taken to the gallows. Will he hang or will society offer him an escape?

“An opera for beggars. Conceived with magnificence such as only beggars could imagine, and an economy such as only beggars could afford”

The New Wolsey Theatre’s Peter Rowe and Graeae’s Jenny Sealey have joined forces once again to bring you their anarchic production of Weill and Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera – adapted from John Gay’s The Beggars Opera.

A motley cast of characters reinvent this classic from the writer of The Causcasian Chalk Circle and Mother Courage, with Kurt Weill's iconic music played live on stage by the actors themselves. Including well-known songs such as Mack the Knife and Pirate Jenny, expect a riotous musical comedy they’ll be begging to see!

All performances include audio description and a creative combination of BSL interpretation and captioning. Contains strong language.

Take advantage of our new #LoveYourTheatre musical and drama packages - book more, save money!

Miss Nightingale, The Threepenny Opera, Betty Blue Eyes and Tom. Book all four shows in the same band for any evening performance and pay PREMIUM £17.50 per ticket (Save £30) or BAND A £15 per ticket (Save £20).

Cast & Creatives

Bertolt Brecht —

The German-born playwright, poet and director, Bertolt Brecht was born in Augsburg, Germany in February 1898. Following a period working as assistant to Max Reinhardt at the famous Deutsches Theater, he established himself as a playwright and director during the 1920s and early 1930s with plays such as BAAL, MAN IS MAN, THE THREEPENNY OPERA and THE MOTHER.  It was during this period that he started to form his theories of epic theatre which informed so much of his later work. In 1933, as Hitler came to power in Germany, Brecht fled to Scandinavia before eventually settling in the USA where he remained until 1947. During the war years, he wrote many of his best known plays, including, THE LIFE OF GALILEO, THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE, MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN and THE RESISTIBLE RISE OF ARTURO UI. He returned to Europe in 1947 and shortly after his arrival formed the Berliner Ensemble. He died in Berlin on 14th August 1956 but remains a hugely influential theatre practitioner.

Kurt Weill —

Before fleeing Nazi Germany for Paris in March 1933, Kurt Weill had established himself as the leading theatrical composer in Germany with a dozen stage works. His collaborations with Bertolt Brecht yielded some of his most famous works, including The Threepenny Opera, Happy End, and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. In Paris, Weill wrote his second symphony and The Seven Deadly Sins (with Brecht) for George Balanchine’s Les Ballets 1933. He came to New York in 1935 for Max Reinhardt’s Eternal Road (Franz Werfel), but before it opened in 1937, the Group Theatre had already produced Johnny Johnson (Paul Green). Weill’s first Broadway success was Knickerbocker Holiday (Maxwell Anderson; film score nominated for a 1944 Oscar), followed by Lady in the Dark (Ira Gershwin, Moss Hart), One Touch of Venus (Ogden Nash, S.J. Perelman), Street Scene (Elmer Rice, Langston Hughes; 1947 special Tony Award), and Love Life (Alan Jay Lerner; the first “concept” musical). Lost in the Stars (Anderson) was Weill’s final Broadway work before he died at age 50. He was survived by his wife and foremost interpreter, Lotte Lenya, who devoted the rest of her life to promoting his works, beginning with the overwhelming success of the 1954 Off-Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera (adapted by Marc Blitzstein) and a series of now-classic recordings.

Elisabeth Hauptmann —

Elisabeth Hauptmann (1897 - 1973) was a writer and translator who met Brecht in 1922 and became closely involved with his work.  Her German translation of John Gay’s THE BEGGGAR’S OPERA formed the basis for DIE DREIGROSCHENOPER (1928) and she also contributed to Brecht’s other works including ST. JOAN OF THE STOCKYARDS.  She lived in America from 1934 to 1949, where she married the composer Paul Dessau.  After her return to Germany, she published Brecht’s work through Suhrkamp Verlag and worked as dramaturg for The Berliner Ensemble.  In 1961, she received the Lessing Award, which the Ministry for Culture of East Germany awarded every year and in 1977 she was posthumously nominated for a Tony Award for her work on HAPPY END.

Milton Lopes — Macheath

Theatre credits include: The Threepenny Opera (Graeae/New Wolsey Theatre/Nottingham Playhouse/Birmingham Repertory Theatre/West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Tempest (Taking Flight); Titus Andronicus (The Theory of Everything); Exhibit B (Third World Bunfight/Barbican Centre); Early Days of a Better Nation (Coney); No One Is An Island (Tangle); Calling Tree (Artsadmin;) Paralympic Opening Ceremony (LOCOG); The Garden (Graeae).

Television credits include: Celebrity Bedlam (Objective Productions); A Unica Mulher (Plural Entertainment); Regresso a Sizalinda (Antonia Seabra Producoes).

Film credits include: Bonobo (Fable Films); Twist of Fate (Clap Filmes); Le Dauphin (Madragoa); Is Just Sex (Crimson Black).

Radio Credits include: Brave New World; The  Lost World ( BBC Radio 4).

Milton is currently developing Elephant, a show involving circus, theatre and live music with deaf and disabled multidisciplinary performers which incorporates sign language and audio description that, subject to funding, will tour in  2019.

Cici Howells — Polly

Garry Robson — JJ Peachum

Theatre: White Christmas (Leicester Curve); Pericles (The National Theatres); Our Country’s Good (Nottingham Playhouse & touring); Blanche & Butch (Birds of Paradise); Mother Courage (Tron); The Who’s Tommy (New Wolsey & touring); Edmund the Learned Pig (Royal Exchange); Reasons to be Cheerful (Stratford East & touring); The Threepenny Opera (Edinburgh Festival Theatre, The New Wolsey Ipswich & touring); Pinocchio (Stratford East); Raspberry (Tron, Oval House); The Last Freakshow (Graeae, Fittings); Sea Changes and Stepping Stones (Interplay); Grimm (The Royal Court).

Television: Pitching In (BBC Wales); Silent Witness; The Bill, Casualty; Footsteps in the Snow.

Garry is also Artistic Director of Fittings Multimedia Arts.

Victoria Oruwari — Mrs Peachum

Natasha Lewis — Lucy / Vixen

Amelia Cavallo — Jenny

Will Kenning — Tiger Brown

Sophie Byrne — Dolly

Sophie trained at the Urdang Academy, Covent Garden and the BRIT School (Music Major).

Theatre credits include; Musician in Jerry's Girls (St James' Theatre & Jermyn Street Theatre, London), Dolly in The Threepenny Opera (UK Tour), Julie in Our House (New Wolsey Theatre/UK Tour), Giant's Wife in Jack & The Beanstalk (Theatre Clwyd, Cymru), Some Like It Hotter (UK Tour), Radio Times (UK Tour), A Vote for Father Christmas (Workshop, The Charing Cross Theatre), Robin Hood & Babes in the Wood (New Wolsey, Ipswich), Radio Times (Watermill Theatre), Guys & Dolls (Theatr Clwyd, New Theatre Cardiff, Grand Theatre Swansea, New Wolsey Ipswich & Salisbury Playhouse), Daisy u/s and playing Laura in Dreamboats & Petticoats (Playhouse Theatre, West End), Hold Tight It's 80's Night (Creative Fabriek, Hengelo), Dreamboats and Petticoats (Savoy, West End & 2009 UK Tour), Gotta Sing Gotta Dance (UK Tour), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (UK Tour and Singapore Esplanade Theatre), Columbia in The Rocky Horror Show (European tour) and Turned on Tap (Queen Elizabeth Hall).

TV credits include; Hallo Berlin, 100 Greatest Musical Hits (German TV), GMTV.

Recording; Original Cast Recording of Dreamboats & Petticoats (Universal Music), Through the Looking Glass (Reed Player), Around the World in Eighty Days.

Cabaret and functions include; Piano/Vocalist at The Montague on the Gardens Hotel, Royal Variety Show Aftershow Party, The Players Bar, Emirates Stadium, Soho Revue Bar, Dorchester, Intercontinental and Hilton Hotels in London.

Music and pit work; Carousel (Arcola Theatre), Jekyll and Hyde (The Union Theatre), The Glorious Ones (The Landor Theatre). Sophie is the creator and musical director of The Daisy Chains- an all-girl all singing and playing 1950's rock 'n roll band.

Barbara Hockaday — Betty / Beggar

Joe Vetch — Bob / PC / Beggar

Ben Goffe — Jake / Beggar

Ben trained at The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.

Theatre credits: Snow White at the London Palladium (Qdos Entertainment); Dido, Queen of Carthage, The Hypocrite, A Midsummer Night's Dream (all RSC); Sinbad The Sailor (Theatre Royal, Stratford East); The Winter's Tale (Taking Flight); Beauty And The Beast (New Wolsey, Ipswich); The Threepenny Opera (New Wolsey/Graeae) , The Iron Man (Graeae); My Favourite MadMan (AZICS); The Horror! The Horror! (Wiltons Music Hall); The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Arts Theatre); Peer Gynt Recharged (Riverside Studios)

T.V. appearances: The Best Bottoms In The Land, Let's Dance for Sports Relief, Short Work (all BBC); The Friday Night Project, Big Brother’s Big Mouth (Channel 4); Foreign Player (Uzong Films)

Films include: Artemis Fowl (Disney); Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Warner Bros.) AM★DAM (Lennox Bros.)

Music Videos: Somebody's Watching Me, Superfreak (Beatfreakz); Rolex Sweep (Skepta); Never Gonna Snow (Chris Moyles)

Pantomime includes: Dick Whittington and his Cat (Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham); Dick Whittington, Peter Pan, Aladdin (all FFE)

Stacey Ghent — Nellie / Beggar

Stephen Collins — Ned / PC

Stephen Collins is an actor, workshop facilitator and recently debut as a director & Associate Artist for Amplified Theatre.  His theatre credits include Summit (Fuel Theatre), Nodus Tollens (DH Ensemble), The Government Inspector (Ramps on the Moon/Birmingham Rep), Threeepenny Opera, The Iron Man (Graeae), Shakespeare Globe's Love's Labour's Lost & Red Flags (Deafinitely Theatre), Hansel & Gretel (Red Earth) & The Winter's Tale (Taking Flight).

Sonia Allori — Maisie / Beggar

Max Runham — Filch / Jimmy

TJ Holmes — Smith / Walt

John Kelly — Narrator

John Kelly has completed five UK tours as well as many international performances.  John is Artistic Director of DaisyFest, National Associate Artist for Drake Music, musician with circus company ExtraOrdinary Bodies and is Policy & Strategy manager at Merton Centre For Independent Living. John sang Spasticus Autisticus, live at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in London, and has also guested with the Blockheads.

Joey Hickman — Rev Kimball / Beggar

West End: Andy and Assistant Musical Director, Dreamboats and Petticoats (Playhouse).

Other theatre: Credits include Puck, Thisbe (Door Ajar/The Vaults); Prince, Cinderella (Tobacco Factory and Travelling Light); Noah Claypool and Performance MD, Oliver! (Watermill); Trip, The School for Scandal and Balthasar, Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory); The BFG (Birmingham Rep); Band Leader, Three Minute Heroes (Belgrade); Reverend Kimble and Performance Musical Director, The Threepenny Opera (New Wolsey Theatre/UK tour); Gwyn and Assistant Musical Director, The Snow Spider (UK tour); various roles and Touring Musical Director, Our House (UK tour/New Wolsey); Billy, I Was a Rat! (UK tour/Birmingham Rep); Gwyn, The Snow Spider (Ovalhouse); Grandfather Dodderspittle, The Fumidor; Lee Harvey Oswald and Co-Musical Director, Assassins; Spellbinder, Tales from the Vienna Woods; Antonio and Musical Director, Twelfth Night; Alwa, Lulu.

Music: Musical Director and Arranger, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery (Mischief /Criterion).

Training: BA (Hons), Actor Musicianship, Rose Bruford.

Wayne ‘Pickles’ Norman — Audio Describer

Wayne ‘Pickles’ Norman has been working professionally for forty years; his first job was the Artful Dodger in the West End production of Oliver! in 1977.

Television credits include; Terry and June, Dr Who, Eastenders, Grange Hill, Inspector Morse and The Harry Enfield Show (BBC). Theatre work includes The Merry Wives of Waltham, Welcome Home, The Coming of Gowf, Afters and Counting the Ways. Pickles has been working for Graeae for 15 years as an access worker and also an audio describer appearing in their hit shows Reasons To Be Cheerful, The Iron Man and The Threepenny Opera.

Jude Mahon — Sign Language Interpreter

Jude Mahon trained as an Actor at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and as a British Sign Language Interpreter at Wolverhampton University. These two skills have worked together in numerous roles on television and in theatre. As a Performance Interpreter Jude won The Best Supporting Actress award from Nottingham Playhouse for her role in Graeae’s The Threepenny Opera.

Peter Rowe — Director

Peter is the Artistic Director of the New Wolsey Theatre.

After training at the Thorndike Theatre, Peter became the Artistic Director for the Southampton-based Solent People’s Theatre and then Artistic Director for the London Bubble Theatre Company, touring London in a big top tent. He has held two other Artistic Directorships, at the Gateway Theatre, Chester and the Liverpool Everyman while freelance work has included productions for regional theatres and touring companies up and down the country. He has directed Boyband and Return to the Forbidden Planet in the West End and on national tours, together with his own musical, Leader of the Pack.

As Artistic Director of the New Wolsey Theatre, his productions have included Sweeney Todd, Perfect Days, Double Indemnity, A Family Affair, A Mad World My Masters, Leader of the Pack, The Good Companions, Neville’s Island, Stephen Sondheim’s Company, Sugar, The Price, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Vincent in Brixton, Blues in the Night, The Glass Menagerie, Laurel and Hardy, Little Shop of Horrors, A Chorus of Disapproval,  Chimps, a new musical adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life, Noises Off, Up on the Roof , Guys and Dolls, Bedroom Farce, Mods And Rox, And Then The Dark, the UK National Tour of the Madness musical Our House, Miss Nightingale, a major revival of The Threepenny Opera, with co-director Jenny Sealey, Midsummer Songs, Feed The Beast, a new play by Steve Thompson, Sweet Charity, the Jason Robert Brown musical The Last Five Years and a touring production of Graham Linehan’s adaptation of The Ladykillers. Earlier this year he wrote and directed Our Blue Heaven, a play with music, celebrating Ipswich Town’s FA Cup victory forty years ago.

He has written ten record-breaking Christmas shows which are currently being produced annually at the New Wolsey Theatre, Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, and Leeds City Varieties. He wrote a musical about Ellie Greenwich, the writer of the great girl group songs of the sixties - Leader of the Pack – which has played at the New Wolsey and on two national tours. He has also written the books for Songs From a Hotel Bedroom, a setting of Kurt Weill songs produced at Watford Palace Theatre and the Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House, and 20th Century Boy, a musical inspired by the life of Marc Bolan, which has played at the New Wolsey, The Belgrade, Coventry and on a major national tour. His original play Midsummer Songs, with music by Ben Goddard, premiered at the New Wolsey Theatre in 2014.

Jenny Sealey — Director

Director / Artistic Director of Graeae

Jenny Sealey co-directed the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony alongside Bradley Hemmings (GDIF). She has been Artistic Director and CEO of Graeae since 1997 and has pioneered a new theatrical language, coining the term ‘aesthetics of access’. Credits for Graeae include The House Of Bernarda Alba, Blood Wedding, Blasted, The Threepenny Opera, The Limbless Knight, Belonging and Reasons To Be Cheerful. International work includes Romeo and Juliet in Bangladesh, Blood Wedding in Tokyo and Belonging in Brazil. Jenny was awarded her MBE in 2009 and The Human Rights Awards for the Arts in 2012.


Neil Murray — Designer

Robert Hyman — Musical Director and Arranger

Mark Smith — Movement Director

Mark Haig — Projections Designer

Malcom Rippeth — Lighting Designer

Drew Baumohl — Sound Designer

Drew trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. His previous sound designs include: The Dissidents (The Tricycle Theatre) Mary Shelley (Shared Experience) A Season in the Congo: Parallel Production (Young Vic) The Kite Runner: UK Tour (UK Productions) The Threepenny Opera (Graeae) Here We Stay, Unforgettable (New Perspectives) Time and The Conways, My Judy Garland Life, Richard III, The Kite Runner, Of Mice and Men, The Importance of Being Earnest, Grandpa in my Pocket: Teamwork, Umbrellas, Private Lives, Amy’s View, Twelfth Night, The Families of Lockerbie, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Forever Young, Blithe Spirit, Glamour, Vertigo, Tom’s Midnight Garden, Beast on the Moon and Aladdin (Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company); Dust, Dreamtime (Derby Theatre) The Crossing (New Art Exchange); The Grandfathers (LYTX); The Trial, Blood Wedding, The Visit, Find Me and Down in the Dumps (Nottingham Playhouse Youth Theatre); West Side Story (Nottingham Operatic Society) The Wiz, Séance on a Sunday Afternoon, Empty Bed Blues and Smile (Lakeside Arts Centre); Thoroughly Modern Millie, Crazy for you, Peter Pan (Carlton Operatic Society); and as Associate Sound Designer, Summer and Smoke (Apollo Theatre, London).

Joey Hickman — Performance MD

West End: Andy and Assistant Musical Director, Dreamboats and Petticoats (Playhouse).

Other theatre: Credits include Puck, Thisbe (Door Ajar/The Vaults); Prince, Cinderella (Tobacco Factory and Travelling Light); Noah Claypool and Performance MD, Oliver! (Watermill); Trip, The School for Scandal and Balthasar, Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory); The BFG (Birmingham Rep); Band Leader, Three Minute Heroes (Belgrade); Reverend Kimble and Performance Musical Director, The Threepenny Opera (New Wolsey Theatre/UK tour); Gwyn and Assistant Musical Director, The Snow Spider (UK tour); various roles and Touring Musical Director, Our House (UK tour/New Wolsey); Billy, I Was a Rat! (UK tour/Birmingham Rep); Gwyn, The Snow Spider (Ovalhouse); Grandfather Dodderspittle, The Fumidor; Lee Harvey Oswald and Co-Musical Director, Assassins; Spellbinder, Tales from the Vienna Woods; Antonio and Musical Director, Twelfth Night; Alwa, Lulu.

Music: Musical Director and Arranger, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery (Mischief /Criterion).

Training: BA (Hons), Actor Musicianship, Rose Bruford.

Debbie O'Brien — Casting Director

Debbie’s West End /UK Tours include American Idiot; Thriller Live; Dirty Dancing; Knights of the Rose; 20th Century Boy; The Knowledge; Close to You; Priscilla Queen of the Desert; Sinatra; Our House; Starlight Express; Mum’s the Word; Jackie; I Was a Rat; Grease; The Snowman, Flashdance; The King and I; Showboat; Dancing in the Streets; The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas; Daisy Pulls It Off; The Harder They Come; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; Saturday Night Fever; Fame; Peter Pan; The Pirates of Penzance; Smokey Joe's Café; The Rocky Horror Show; Doctor In the House; Mahabharata; Anything Goes; What a Feeling; A Chorus Line; A Tribute to the Blues Brothers

 Children’s casting includes Avalanche; Kinky Boots; The Bodyguard; Caroline or Change; Annie; Show Boat; Medea; The Sound of Music


Regional and international productions include Hugh Jackman The Show; Starlight Express; Once; We’ll Live and Die In These Towns; The Noise Boys; Million Dollar Quartet, Havana, Jersey Boys, Rock of Ages, Priscilla QOTD and The Choir of Man (all for NCL); Room, Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin; Oxy and the Morons; The Last Five Years; Five Guys Named Moe; The BFG; Midsummer Songs; Noises Off; And Then the Dark; Propaganda Swing; Hairspray; It’s a Wonderful Life; Little Shop of Horrors; Laurel and Hardy; Blues in the Night; South Pacific; My Fair Lady; Me and My Girl; Guys and Dolls; Crazy For You; Oklahoma!; Amadeus; Romeo and Juliet; The Comedy of Errors; Merry Wives of Windsor; Twelfth Night; Only You Can Save Mankind

 Recorded media includes Waybuloo; Grandpa In My Pocket; What’s Your News; Planet Cook.

Reviews of The Threepenny Opera

What the press say

You will be treating yourselves to one of the theatrical highlights of the year.

East Anglian Daily Times

You really don't want to get too close to any of these characters

Some things are meant to go together. In the case of Brecht and Graeae this may be less horse and carriage and more tear gas and riot shield but their union is none the less a perfect combination of tale and teller.


What the public say

I never fail to be amazed at the diversity and creativity of your productions and this did not disappoint. An excellent piece of contemporary theatre where the actors seemed to be enjoying themselves so much it was like being at a party.

Jill Brindle

Having seen productions of both The Beggars Opera and The Threepenny Opera in London in the 1960's whilst working in theatre this is a fantastic interpretation and production. One of the best shows I have seen for ages.

Roger Capell-Clarke

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