Friday, May 20, 2005
Enjoyed seeing my colleague, Jim Kieffer, starring in Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's "The Threepenny Opera" at the Open Fist Theater in Hollywood tonight.
According to the program, Kieffer is known as "The Jimmy" around the theater. The Jimmy plays both the Narrator and Weeping Willow Walt in the show. He actually opens the show with a rendition of "Mack the Knife."
I'll have to find out if this show is where that song comes from or if it is adapted for the show. The Jimmy sings it great -- but it's a creepy version with kind of a "Jack the Ripper" theme.
"The Threepenny Opera," written in 1928,has a dark view of class tension and corruption throughout society. One of the lyrics -- "You have to kill your neighbor to survive" -- pretty much sums up the tone of the evening.
According to the program, Brecht fled Germany in 1933 to live in Scandinavia and then America. In 1947 Brecht was subpoenaed to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to testify on the "Communist infiltration" of Hollywood.
The day after his testimony, Brecht left the United States to live in Switzerland and eventually returned to East Germany where he founded the famous Berliner Ensemble.
This show if a fitting one for the Open Fist Theater. It marks their last performance in a decades old Quonset hut on La Brea between Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. This site has long been the site of a live stage -- in fact, according to The Jimmy, Bob Hope used to rehearse his USO shows at this location. Alas, the land has been sold out from under the theater company and condos are set to be built there.
Wherever Open Fist ends up I'm sure The Jimmy will be there with his killer stage smile.