New Wolsey: Beggar’s Opera reinvented

This Spring, the New Wolsey Theatre will be teaming up with three other leading regional theatres, in partnership with Graeae, to produce Brecht and Weill’s THE THREEPENNY OPERA, which is as topical now as it was eighty-five years ago.

This beggars’ opera, a story of the dispossessed and the downtrodden, will resonate across modern British society.

threepennyAs well as the New Wolsey, it will be produced with Nottingham Playhouse, Birmingham Rep and West Yorkshire Playhouse. The show will arrive in Ipswich from 12th to 22nd March.

Teaming up with Graeae, the UK’s foremost disabled led theatre company, this five-way co-production will be the first fully integrated production of THE THREEPENNY OPERA ever performed. Using live audio description, a creative combination of BSL interpretation and captioning and an integrated cast of disabled and non-disabled performers, the co-directors, Jenny Sealey (Artistic Director of Graeae) and Peter Rowe (Artistic Director of the New Wolsey Theatre) will bring their unique combination of theatrical passion to this modern classic.

Fans of the New Wolsey’s pantomime will be pleased to welcome back Will Kenning as Tiger Brown, who previously featured as the Dame in the rock’n’roll pantomimes over the last three years. Cici Howells who currently stars in this year’s pantomime as Taffy the Cat will be hanging up her cat ears and tail to play the role of Polly Peachum, Macheaths love interest. Other cast members include Natasha Lewis and Sophie Byrne, who have most recently toured with the New Wolsey’s UK tour of the Madness musical Our House.

Peter Rowe, Artistic Director and Co-Director of THE THREEPENNY OPERA: “I wanted to do a version of The Threepenny Opera where we create a company of contemporary “beggars” to tell the tale from their perspective – a parable about the corruption of the world, told by those excluded from it. Jenny’s production of Reasons to be Cheerful, seemed to have exactly the spirit that The Threepenny Opera requires – defiant and irreverent, funny and fearless and set me thinking… What would it be like if we brought together the Graeae motley crew with the Wolsey actor-musicians? Brecht’s own mash up of John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera has a brilliant, instinctive, cabaret flair. The team we are putting together to re-invent this musical for our times aims to recapture that heady mix of gallows humour, razor-sharp satire and up front entertainment. I can’t wait.”

The London 2012 Paralympic Games opening ceremony, (co-directed by Jenny Sealey), provided a global platform for the skills and talent of deaf and disabled artists, and this brand new production of The Threepenny Opera will endorse the claim that the UK is now a world leader in promoting diversity in the arts.

With live music played onstage by the actors themselves, delivering a score that includes such well-known songs as Mack the Knife and Pirate Jenny, expect a riotous musical comedy that audiences will be begging to see!

• New Wolsey, 12th-22nd March, 2014. Tickets are on sale now and can be booked through the Box Office by calling 01473 295900 or by booking online at