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REF NO.: 118

SUBJECT: SWGC: Theatre Department presents The Beggar’s Opera

DATE: Nov. 23

In 1728, the theatrical and operatic world of London was turned on its ear by the work of an upstart playwright named John Gay. A public that had gotten used to seeing sophisticated, high brow musicals about ancient legends and gods (in Italian, no less!) was thrust into the world of beggars, highwaymen, and whores. Gone were castles in the clouds, the towering mountains, the sweeping vistas; in their place was the dark, dank, seething criminal underworld of London. And the public loved it. John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera was a smash hit, breaking all box office records and becoming the most successful musical of its age. The first run of The Beggars’ Opera in London would make John Gay a fortune and would go on to play in theatres in Ireland, Wales, throughout Europe, and was first musical comedy to play in New York. Beggar’s was an international musical hit, hundreds of years before Cats, Phantom, Les Mis or any of the rest. Its star, the highwayman MacHeath would find his way into the cultural repertoire, serving as the inspiration for Mack the Knife.

In keeping with the spirit of the show (Gay insisted all the songs be set to popular tunes of the time), our production of Beggar’s is unplugged – stripped of all the usual bells and whistles of modern musicals, it’s an all acoustic affair, featuring the music of Ivan Emke and Dan Payne on a range of traditional instruments.

The theatre department at Grenfell is very pleased to present The Beggar’s Opera on our stage from November 30th to December 3rd. Featuring the talents of our fourth, third and second year students, this production is directed by Todd Hennessey, chair of the theatre program, with the musical direction of Ivan Emke and choreography by Kristin Harris-Walsh. Set design is by royHansen-robitschek, costume design by guest artist Dylan Cag and lighting design by Jim Chalmers-Gow. Also joining us for this production is master prop builder and guest artist Valerie Viertel.

Show time is 8 the Fine Arts Theatre. Tickets are available at the College Bookstore or at the Box Office on the evening of each performance. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.

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For further information, please contact Pamela Gill, communications co-ordinator, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, (709) 637-6200 ext. 6134 or


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