The Beggar's Opera

by John Gay

The Beggar's Opera had 3 performances almost 2 years ago (between the 17th of November 2016 and the 19th of November 2016) at Rhoda McGaw Theatre

179th Production. The Beggar’s Opera transports us to a grubby London in the eighteenth century. It’s a world of dashing Highwaymen and women of easy virtue. The pulsating score with lilting folk melodies underpins a story of a web of lies and deceit.

A comedy of menace exposing moral and financial corruption, it exposes the darker side of society that undercuts the surface glitter of that most elegant age.

Like many musicals the plot is fairly preposterous. Polly Peachum, daughter of a fence and thief taker, has secretly married Macheath, a notorious highwayman. Horrified at their daughter throwing herself away on such a man, Mr. and Mrs. Peachum plot to extricate Polly from the marriage, as well as profit by it, by turning in their son-in-law, collecting the reward for doing so, and seeing him hanged. The besotted Polly helps Macheath escape, but he is betrayed by a group of whores in Peachum’s pay and taken to Newgate prison where he is again helped to escape by Lucy Lockit daughter of the prison keeper, who is pregnant by him. Lucy tries to poison Polly, a fight ensues but they make it up and plead at the gallows for Macheath’s life to be spared.

This is a bawdy, dynamic, energetic, colourful physical play. It needs to be played with a sense of danger that is tinged with ribaldry and a lusty attitude to sex. It seethes with Hogarthian grotesquery with plenty of brawls and catfights.

There are 3 contrasting ensemble “dances“. These will not be our usual carefully choreographed professional routines but exuberant and sexy Doxies and Highway men moving to the music.

This play marks Judith Dolley's 100th RDG production so she has tried to find one with a big cast so that everyone she has worked with over the years has a chance of being involved if they wish to.

When RDG performed A Chorus Of Disapproval - their one hundreth production in 1989 - it contained many of the Beggar’s Opera songs so maybe this is an apt choice for Judy's 100th .Chris Winslet and Diane McGuire will be in charge of the music and Carolyn Floyd will help with some of the movement.

Application pdf

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Mr Peachum - Paul Foster

A social predator. A powerful man who runs a gang of highwaymen and prostitutes. He easily turns them over to their death when they have outgrown their use. He is a professional informer whose wealth and business have been built on the business of betrayal.

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Filch - Ian Thomas

Peachum’s loyal, perky cockney servant. He juggles the many women he services including Mrs Peachum. Energetic and chirpy.

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Lockit - Marc Anderson

A vile, unscrupulous jailer and scary, malevolent social predator. Partner in crime with Peachum’s plots, the duo are the embodiment of a culture in which the lines between respectability and criminality, purity and corruption are dangerously blurred and where the criminal world is a mirror image of high society.

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Mrs Peachum - Jean Warner

Polly’s mother, having sex with Filch and Robin of Bagshot. A schemer, she understands and reinforces her husband’s authority. Full bloodied and voluptuous she is a social climber with airs and graces who thinks women who marry are stupid.

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Macheath - Nick Lund

A swaggering, amoral robber in chief with an eye for the ladies He has several love interests one of which is Lucy Lockit whilst he is newly married to Polly Peachum. He is a charming, irresponsible cockney Highwayman with a generous spirit. Although completely unethical, loyalty and justice motivate him.

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Matt of the Mint - Chris Butterfield

The Mint was a sanctuary for debtors . A close friend of Macheath he gives a rousing Robin Hood speech about the relationship between thieving and redistribution of wealth. He is a prominent, sturdy figure, diligent but sometimes bold and hasty.

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Polly Peachum - Jenny Powell

Arguably the most innocent figure – she loves to imitate the fine ladies. Very much in love with Macheath she can be quite feisty and is not beyond some scheming and trickery.

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Lucy Lockit - Emma Thompson

The pregnant daughter of the Jailor, Lockit, and Macheath’s wronged fiancée. She is robustly earthy and bawdy and enjoys a good fight. She endeavours to win Macheath back at Polly’s expense.

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Jenny Diver - Faith Powell

Outwardly prudish she lays on her back a lot. Along with Sukey Tawdrey her flirtations with Macheath trap him into a compromising physical position when she signals for the constable and Peachum to arrest him. A pick pocket she is in fierce competition with Mrs Coaxer.

Original

Diana Trapes and Betty Doxy - Frankie Godliman

Diana Trapes is one of the women in Peachum’s gang. Top of the female gang she is a commanding figure and a garrulous gossip who steals clothes and enjoys a drink.

Betty Doxy is a sly, sluttish beggar. Enjoys her drink

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Mrs Coaxer - Linda Russell

A prostitute. Macheath is a client in her bed when he is finally apprehended. A charming flirty woman who hates Diana Trapes.

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Mrs Vixen - Caroline Ross

In competition with Jenny Diver and in love with Molly Brazen. She has a fine wit and is a strong scheming woman with plenty of spirit. A shop lifter

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Mrs Slammekin - Julia Stevens

A careless slattern. A larger than life figure who is the life and soul of the Tavern

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Sukey Tawdrey - Amy Hewson

Friends with Jenny Diver, she helps to trap Macheath. Lays on her back a lot, in competition with Mrs Coaxer.

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Dolly Trull - Anna Beuden

A voluptuous prostitute; very bodily aware

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Molly Brazen - Nicola Anderson

Works for Lockit and supports Lucy. A voluptuous and free-hearted girl who specialises in stealing clothes.

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Beggar - Anne Nunn

The Beggar who observes the plot. Makes an important contribution to the plot and style of the play in the opening and closing passages. Also part of the vocal ensemble.

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Dame of the Theatre - Jill Payne

Makes an important contribution to the plot and style of the play in the opening and closing passages. Also can be part of the vocal ensemble if desired.

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Dame of the Theatre - Gillian Smithies

Makes an important contribution to the plot and style of the play in the opening and closing passages. Also can be part of the vocal ensemble if desired.

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Betty Sly - Anna Foster

A woman of dubious virtue in Peachum’s employ.

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Moll Lay - Nancy Lund

A woman of dubious virtue in Peachum’s employ.

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Jemmy Twitcher - Graham Collier

As his name. A highwayman

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Ben Budge - Mark Humble

A highwayman. Back from transportation, he is a close friend of Macheath and Matt of the Mint.

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Crook-Fingered Jack - Keith Bollands

A highwayman. A pick pocket.

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Nimming Ned - Graham Botterill

A highwayman. Steals materials

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Robin of Bagshot - Neil James

A highwayman. Having an affair with Mrs Peachum.

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Tom Tipple - Guy Warner

A highwayman and one of Macheath's gang.

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Director - Judith Dolley

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Choreographer - Carolyn Floyd

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Musical Director - Chris Winslet

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Musical Director - Diane McGuire

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Stage Manager/Set Construction - Simon Waller

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Assistant Stage Manager - Clare Pinnock

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Assistant Stage Manager - Liz Thomas

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Set Design and Construction - John Godliman

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Set Assistant - Paul Napolitano

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Set Assistant - Bill Payne

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Set Assistant, Props, Poster and Programme Design and Rehearsal Photographs - Anne Nunn

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Set Assistant and Props - Clare Pinnock

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Set Assistant - Linda Russell

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Set Assistant - Ian Thomas

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Lighting - Chris Elcocks (MC Production Group)

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Sound - Jonathan Miller

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Props - Wally Walters

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Wardrobe - Judith Dolley

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Wardrobe - Jill Payne

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Wardrobe - Anna Foster

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Front of House Manager - Colin Dolley

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Publicity - Nick Lund

Original

Publicity - Frankie Godliman

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Performance Photographs - Alan Bostock (www.photoeyes.biz)

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Box Office - Leah Ayers

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Set Assistant and Props - Liz Thomas

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Woodwinds - Bob McKay

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Brass - Robin Upcott

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Drums - Mark Wills

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Bass - Diane McGuire

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Guitars - Chris Winslet