The role of MacHeath has been played by many extraordinary actors throughout the work’s 85 year history. In the U.S., this anti-hero/hero character was performed by Scott Merrill (1950’s), Raul Julia (1970’s), Sting (1980’s), Philip Casnoff (1990’s), Jesse L. Martin & Alan Cummings (2000’s).
The Threepenny Opera is not an original story. In the 1700’s John Gay, English poet and playwright wrote The Beggar’s Opera with music by Johann Christoph Pepusch. It was written as a satirical response to high Italian opera and the upper class’s fascination with the genre. The piece features familiar tunes of the day and ordinary people and focuses on corruption at all levels of society with commentary on issues of poverty, social inequities and politics.
MacHeath, referred to as Captain MacHeath in The Beggar’s Opera, is described by critics as both a hero and an anti-hero. While he is a thief and criminal, MacHeath is viewed by some as a hero standing up against the decadence of society.
We’ll be interested to know what you think about MacHeath after seeing The Threepenny Opera.
…On the sidewalk, one Sunday mornin’
Lies a body oozin’ life
Someone’s sneaking ‘round the corner
Could that someone, perhaps, perchance, be Mack the Knife?