STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
Capitalism, comedy, corruption, and criminal characters. They all go together to create the musical masterpiece “The Threepenny Opera” and Villanova Theatre tackles that tale as the final production of their 2014-2015 season.
The musical swirls around Macheath, London’s most notorious criminal, as he pursues the woman he loves while dodging the police and London bourgeoisie. Around him are an assortment of corrupt characters who maneuver for advantage, so much so that one could ask, do you have to be a criminal to survive?
“The Threepenny Opera” is a biting critique of capitalism with colorful characters, gritty London streetscapes, and toe-tapping tunes like “The Ballad of Mack the Knife” and “Pirate Jenny.”
Stephen Tornetta, who’s from Norristown and lives in Bryn Mawr, plays Macheath, also known as Mack the Knife, who everyone fears.
“There are a lot of qualities of Mack that I relate to – he’s charismatic, out-going, and confident, and many that I don’t — he’s manipulative, lethal, and unforgiving,” he said. “What I like to think about are the similarities between myself and the character and then play up the difference to create something authentic and completely new.”
One of the best things about the show and the most fun of the rehearsal process has been his learning to tango. Tornetta had little ballroom experience so he enjoyed the challenge. He also likes that some of the actors are playing instruments – tubas, cellos, accordions, glockenspiels, and more – on stage.
“It’s going to be a really immersive experience for the audience, even more so than they’re regularly used to,” at Villanova, he said.
Sharing the stage with Tornetta is Meghan Winch, of Narberth, who plays Mrs. Peachum.
“She’s quite far away from me as a person, but I love her very much. She’s really tough and goes after what she wants. She’s carved out a place in this society for herself and her family and will fight tooth and nail for it,” Winch said. “She’s also loud, funny, and frequently drunk, so that’s awfully fun to play with.”
Many of Winch’s castmates are fun to play with, too.
“There have been so many times that I’ve completely fallen apart because someone has been too hilarious to handle,” she said. “Hopefully by the time we open I’ll have myself under control.”
Bryn Mawr’s Mitchell Bloom, who plays Peachum, is having as good a time as Winch is.
“The show is a lot of fun and I essentially get to play like a kid with a group of my best friends for a couple of hours every night,” he said.
Best friend Winch likes that, too, and the fact that the show is funny, but also has a message that resonates today.
“This show has a lot to say about oppression, poverty, and social conscience,” she said. “But it’s wrapped up in such a darkly hilarious, thrilling package that I hope our audiences get a really exciting night at the theater.”
“‘Threepenny’ is ridiculous in the best sense of the word,” Bloom said. “Its absurdity allows it to be both hilarious and cutting at the same time and I think it will be a lot of fun for an audience.”
IF YOU GO
What: “The Threepenny Opera”
When: 8 p.m. Tue.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., April 14-26
Where: Villanova Theatre, Villanova University, Vasey Hall, Lancaster & Ithan avenues, Villanova.
Tickets: $21-$25 (discounts available for seniors, students, and groups)
Info.: Call (610) 519-7474 or visit www.villanovatheatre.org