(CBS) – Philadelphia’s Arden Theater has taken the wraps off an elaborate production of “The Threepenny Opera”, an ambitious take on what began as John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera” in 1728. From that came the dark and bawdy satirical German musical by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brech which had its Philadelphia premier in 1933.

The Arden’s cavernous Otto Haas Stage is the current home of a long-winded satirical take on the relationship of life to human existence. “To exist is to suffer” reads one of the on-stage signs.

Director Terry Nolan’s close to three-hour spectacle has an orchestra on one level with the shifting movement of characters focusing, for the most part on MacHeath (left in photo) who is part hero, part villain, part of a family to which he has only part claim.

It’s a musical by nature although many tunes seem forced. It’s a large, busy cast especially MacHeath and his many females.

The Threepenny Opera has enjoyed mixed reactions over the years in many countries. The Arden production gets an ‘A’ for effort but little else. It’s set to run through November 7th.

Reported By Bob Nelson, KYW Newsradio

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