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The Beggar's Opera

The Beggar's Opera
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: John Gay
Adapted by: David Turner
Music by: Roy Darby
Publisher: Samuel French (cover image may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 56
Pub. Date: 1982
ISBN-10: 0573080534
ISBN-13: 9780573080531
Cast Size: 12 female, 20 male

About the Play:

The Beggar's Opera has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Male Monologues and Female/Female Scenes.

The Beggar's Opera is a full-length musical, dramatic comedy adapted by David Turner from John Gay's well-known eighteenth-century work of the same name. The play uses an underworld milieu to explore the intermingled themes of love, loyalty, and treachery. With new arrangements of traditional airs by Roy Darby, this famous "opera of the people" is generally agreed to be the first ever musical.

The Beggar's Opera revolves around the love triangle between the thief Macheath, Polly Peachum, the sheltered daughter of Macheath's fence, Mr. Peachum, and Lucy Lockit, the jailer's daughter. John Gay's great comic burlesque of Italian opera has been adapted for modern use by David Turner. All the essential ingredients of the story are there. Peachum, a thief catcher as well as a seller of stolen goods, is horrified to discover that his daughter Polly has married Captain Macheath, the notorious woman loving highwayman. He and his wife plan Macheath's death in the knowledge that they would be entitled to their daughter's inheritance. Meanwhile Lockett, the corrupt prison warden, is also after the highwayman's treasures, while his daughter Lucy is found to be another of Macheath's lovers. Macheath is arrested, Peachum and Lockett hope for his money and Polly and Lucy, among many others, compete for his love. The Beggar's Opera is a tale of corruption, social inequality, and malfeasance in high and low places. Thieves, gangsters, politicians, lawyers ... who can tell them apart?

At its London premiere in 1728 at the Lincoln's Inn Theatre, John Gay's rollicking The Beggar's Opera caused a sensation. Lampooning the politics and public morality of the day, it became an instant hit. This more contemporary and abridged adaptation by David Turner was first seen in London in 1968 and has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops. It has been performed in regional repertory, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 12 female, 20 male

About the Playwright:

John Gay (1685-1732) was an English poet and dramatist. He is best remembered for The Beggar's Opera (1728), a ballad opera. The characters, including Captain Macheath and Polly Peachum, became household names.

David Turner (1927-1990) was a British playwright. He made his name in 1962 with his stage play Semi-Detached, a domestic satire that had a London run with Laurence Olivier, played Broadway and was filmed in 1970 as All The Way Up. He prepared modern versions of classic plays including John Gay's The Beggar's Opera and The Miser by Molière.