North Central College - Naperville, IL

North Central College theatre students perform “Threepenny Opera” May 10-13

Print Email Share

North Central College presents a production of “The Threepenny Opera,” the early 20th century musical by German playwright Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill.

Four performances of “The Threepenny Opera” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. May 10, 11 and 12 and at 2 p.m. May 13 in Madden Theatre at the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave. Tickets are $10/adults and $8/students and senior citizens; call the North Central College Box Office at 630-637-SHOW (7469) or visit

Based on Elisabeth Hauptmann’s German translation of John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera,” the play famously asks the question “Who is the greater criminal: he who robs a bank or he who founds one?” The play’s social critique of capitalism remains controversial nearly 85 years after the production’s 1928 Berlin premiere. The translation for this production is by Robert MacDonald and Jeremy Sams.

Kelly Howe, assistant professor of theatre, says the classic musical overlaps the philosophical mindset of the present. “We’ve chosen to set this production of ‘The Threepenny Opera’ at an encampment of the Occupy Movement,” Howe says. “At the heart of both the play and that contemporary movement lies a deep concern that the prevailing financial systems of their day are making it difficult for people to (a) behave humanely with each other and (b) survive.”

The show’s score is heavily influenced by jazz, including the opening number and most popular song, “The Ballad of Mackie Messer.” The tune was later translated into English by Marc Blitzstein as “Mack the Knife” and became a jazz standard recorded by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin, among others.

The production contains adult language and situations and is intended for mature audiences only. As part of its critique of complex social dynamics, this play contains likely controversial words and phrases meant to foster critical discussion about power, ethics and identity.

The principal parts for North Central’s production of “The Threepenny Opera” include (part, actor, town, year, major):

Narrator: Aronzo Traylor of Chicago, a freshmen majoring in musical theatre
Mrs. Peachum: Colleen O’Connor of Mesa, Ariz., a junior majoring in musical theatre
Mr. Peachum: Harrison Ashley of Carol Stream, a senior majoring in musical theatre
Filch: Hywel Griffith of Pontypridd, Wales, U.K., a junior majoring in theatre
Polly Peachum: Hannah Toriumi of Riverside, a senior majoring in theatre and psychology
Lucy Brown: Grace Heimerl of Naperville, a junior majoring in musical theatre
Jenny Diver: Heidi Buyck of Woodridge, a junior majoring in musical theatre
Macheath: Tanner Smale of Elkhart, Ind., a senior majoring in musical theatre
Brown: Cullen Rogers of North Aurora, a sophomore majoring in psychology
Weeping Willow Walter: Jack Bauer of Manhattan, Ill., a freshman majoring in musical theatre and psychology
Crook Finger Jake: Derek Bacon of Osceola, Ind., a sophomore majoring in musical theatre
Matt of the Mint: Dave Musselman of Woodridge, a senior majoring in musical theatre
Chainsaw Bob: Mikaela Gissy of Plainfield, a junior majoring in theatre
Ned: Brian Warren of Glendale Heights, a sophomore majoring in theatre
Jimmy: Amanda Rose of Goshen, Ind., a sophomore majoring in theatre
Dolly: Emily Schmidt of Mascoutah, a senior majoring in theatre and English: writing track
Betty: Jessica Martin of Madison, Wis., a junior majoring in theatre
Vixen: Hillary Haymond of Plainfield, a sophomore majoring in musical theatre
Nell: Rebekah Thurston of Chatham, a junior majoring in broadcast communication and theatre
Molly: Chelsea Ward of Naperville, a freshman majoring in musical theatre
Smith: Jessica Gallo of Park Ridge, a sophomore majoring in musical theatre
Reverend Kimball: Erik Burke of Monroe, Mich., a freshman majoring in musical theatre
Beggar: Chloe Mokadam of Hamburg, N.Y., a sophomore majoring in studio art

North Central College offers majors in theatre or musical theatre and a minor in dance. A full range of acting and dance classes is available, as well as opportunities to direct a full-length production. Students of all majors can participate in musical and nonmusical performances, actor showcases and one-act plays and performances in the College’s four theatre venues. Full-time professors and active professionals who are artist-teachers serve as faculty. Visit to learn more about studying theatre at North Central College. 

This performance is one of many ongoing programs at North Central College to enrich and broaden the cultural and academic outlook for the College and community. North Central offers a variety of venues accommodating a rich range of local and world-class events, performances and space needs for the public. For a comprehensive schedule of musical performances, theatrical and dance productions, art exhibits and lectures, visit or call the box office at 630-637-SHOW (7469).

Founded in 1861 and celebrating its Sesquicentennial in 2011-2012, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. With more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes. Visit to learn more.