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Arts and Entertainment

LAist gets hit by an Open Fist at The Threepenny Opera.

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Three coins, and no fountain in sight, which is good for us because LAist recently attended the opening night of The Threepenny Opera at the Open Fist Theatre, and we are happy to let you know that Mackie is definitely back in town.

Written by Bertolt Brecht and first performed in Berlin in 1928, The Threepenny Opera broke box-office records during that run, and managed to do the same again when it ran from 1954 to 1961 in New York. This particular version of the opera uses Robert David Macdonald’s libretto and the lyrics of Jeremy Sams that were first performed in London in 1994. With all of this history behind it, the Open Fist Theatre group still manages to take this and make it their own.

The story is darkly comedic, and follows the trials and travails of infamous criminal Mack the Knife as he plies his trade across London. He rocks the boat a little too far when he marries (one in a string of many marriages for him) Polly Peachum, the daughter of "The Beggar King". You see, the London of the day was overrun with street beggars, and in order to be a beggar, you had to first procure a license from Mr. Peachum. Not only would he instruct you in the proper art of begging, and provide you with a unique begging costume, but he would also take home most of your day's wages. Ah, jolly old England. Needless to say, Mr. Peachum makes things difficult for Macheath (which must be his Christian name), and before long, he is facing the gallows. However, anything can happen on the stage, and it probably will.

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The entire cast, bedecked in period costumes, does a wonderful job with the more than 20 songs, all of which have musical accompaniment from a small onstage band who manage to blend into the scenery. There are some standout performers here, including David Castellani as Mr. Peachum, with a voice so loud that he missed his calling as a barker for Doctor Smith's Snake Oil Medicine back in the 1800's. Josie Gundy and Rebecca Metz likewise belt out the tunes and outshine the men as Polly Peachum and Lucy Brown. However, the white-faced smiling Narrator, played by Jimmy Kieffer really manages to steal every scene he is in, including the transitions. Someone put this guy in a sitcom, a buddy comedy film, or a guest-starring role on Alias, and be quick about it.

This performance, which is a very nice change from the films Hollywood keeps churning out at the local multiplex, like Boobs and Explosions III, will be at the Open Fist Theatre from April 30th through June 12th. Tickets are $20 for all shows, with "pay what you can" dates on May 8th and 15th. Sadly, this will be the last performance at this great little theater, which is located at 1625 North La Brea Avenue in Hollywood, as it is due to be leveled to make way for...*shudder*...condos and a mini-mall. While LAist has it's very own "Tear It Down!" section, we think this calls for a "Keep It Up!" special edition. Does Hollywood really need more condos? Now that Mackie's around, someone ask him.