The Catholic University of America

Media Advisory


Theater: CUA Presents "The Beggar's Opera"


7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, Friday, Oct. 5, and Saturday, Oct. 6
2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, and Sunday, Oct. 7


The Catholic University of America
Hartke Theatre
620 Michigan Ave., N.E.
Washington, D.C.


CUA's Department of Drama presents "The Beggar's Opera," John Gay's 1728 masterpiece, a satiric musical that compares the thieves and prostitutes of London with their aristocratic and bourgeois "betters." This "anti-opera," now rarely produced, was the precursor to the genre of the modern musical. Its story was later adapted by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill in "The Threepenny Opera," from which came the song "Mac the Knife," made famous by Bobby Darin's 1959 rendition.

"The Beggar's Opera" set a record for the longest run in the London theater in 1728, with 62 successive performances. In 1920, the play began an astonishing run of 1,463 performances at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, London.

The original score of the play doesn't include orchestration, but only sketchy notations for the musical base lines and basic melodies. The Catholic University production will use orchestration that was composed in 1990 by Jonathan Dobin, with instruments and arrangements faithful to the Baroque period in which the play premiered. That new performing edition was commissioned by N. Thomas Pedersen, co-chair of Catholic University's musical theatre program when he was artistic director and music director of Theater Ten Ten in New York City.

Carrie Klewin, a CUA graduate student in directing, will direct this production. Department of Drama Professor Tom Donahue will design the set using the visual theme of the 1905-1914 Winsor McCay comic strip "Little Nemo in Slumberland." Ayun Fedorcha is the lighting designer and Debra Sivigny is costume designer.

There will be a pre-show discussion with Pedersen on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 1 p.m., before the 2 p.m. matinee.

Tickets: $12 full price, $8 for senior citizens and CUA alumni and $5 for students.
For more information, call 202-319-4000 or visit

SPONSOR: Department of Drama