“We’re going for ‘immersive’”

interviews student director Anna Marshall on the challenges of The Threepenny Opera

Photos courtesy of Threepenny Opera York

Photos courtesy of Threepenny Opera York

A show packed with scandal, crime and forbidden love, The Threepenny Opera seems more like something found in a weekly soap than a plot of a musical from the pinnacle of Germany’s Weimar Culture. Nevertheless, the show’s outrageous and satirical plot, alongside its momentous reputation, has allowed it to live on and still enjoy popularity with audiences today. Something so exciting that one of the directors Anna Marshall was keen to share it with me.

First things first – is it really an opera? “The production contains around 19 songs, [although] it is not an opera” she told me. With a “pretty cracking storyline as well as a plot twist”, Anna explains The Threepenny Opera is mostly driven by its witty dialogue, as well as its catchy tunes – some of which we ourselves may already know. “We all know that famous Mac the Knife song so beautifully covered by Mr Bublé” she muses. Who could resist such entertainment than that covered by Bublé himself? Certainly a promising start!
We then go on to discuss rehearsals, as well as the upcoming performances. “Rehearsals are trotting along just fine at the moment and the cast are really giving it their all. We are in the department everyday of the week running lines or songs, and that’s just us and the actors. Everyone is doing an absolutely smashing job and we are already seeing tremendous improvements and character development”.
Anna isn’t the only director of this production – Caolan Keaveney heads up the direction team with Anna and it seems they are pretty in sync.


Both third year students, the performance of Threepenny qualifies as their Autumn Term module; “‘Prac Proj’, or Practical Project, is run by the first years with the direction of the second and third years. This year it just so happens that the chosen Prac Proj was The Threepenny Opera.  The cast, orchestra and production teams are made up of first, second and third year music students”. A great way, she added, for the first years to really get to know the department inside and out.

Although not straying too far from tradition, Anna reassures me that the set will be unique; “Think Tim Burton, higgledy-piggledy rooftops of London from Oliver, with a bit of the Thenardier’s inn from Les Mis. It’s a very fun set with lots of levels and key features from the script. We don’t like to use the word immersive, but that’s what we’re going for!”

A final question for Anna- what is she was looking forward to most? Of course she answered excitedly, “the first night! […] nothing beats first night nerves,” she continues, “it’s the sheer terror and excitement of going into the unknown of a production that has never been performed before” that excites her and gives her that opening night adrenalin rush. “The hours of production rehearsals officially becoming a ‘real world’ on stage is just fantastic.”

Opening night is Wednesday 5th November, Week 6, and I’m sure you’ll all agree that it looks to be very promising indeed. As Anna put it so well, “The cast are great, the orchestra is great, the production team is also great. In my eyes it’s a must see!”.

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