by Steven Pisano
On Sunday evening, the good citizens of Bleecker Street were invaded by common street thugs, con artists, beggars, murderers, and whores from New Jersey. They hob-nobbed with criminal intent in a dark underground club. Liquor flowed freely at a bar in the back. The police were called, and the charming gangleader was sent to jail. But at the end of the night, the Village was safe again, and the riffraff had fled back across the river.
No, this wasn't an episode of The Sopranos. It was Rutgers Opera's production of The Threepenny Opera at Le Poisson Rouge. Unfortunately, this performance of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's classic musical had less the "pearly white" bite of a shark and more the toothless nuzzle of a teddy bear. Old Macheath, babe, shouldn't have kept his jackknife out of sight.
To be fair, this one-off production was staged not by professional singers, but by students at The Rutgers Opera Institute, established in 2011. But even in a friendly full-house seemingly packed with family and other familiars, there was scarce laughing at the satire, little shock at the moral debauchery, and only polite applause for the performances.