Hard Things Done Well
ECU cast presents ‘Threepenny Opera’
Satirical comedy is hard work.
Inspiring laughter while serving up searing social commentary demands practiced precision from cast and crew.
Students and faculty in East Carolina University’s School of Theatre and Dance are well acquainted with hard work. Their discipline throughout the difficult task of staging a successful satirical comedy was evident in their production of the “Threepenny Opera,” which ran April 19-24 in ECU’s McGinnis Theatre.
Joseph Veale, an ECU junior from Charlotte, played MacHeath, the male lead. “It is hard work, but at the School of Theatre and Dance, we pride ourselves on finding the joy in doing hard things well,” he said.
Amanda Klinikowski, a junior from Lumberton, played alongside Veale as Jenny, a harlot.
“The hard part was justifying Jenny’s decisions and lines, so that I could make sense of what she wanted throughout the show,” said Klinikowski, a musical theatre major.
“Her point of view is very different from my own, and it’s been a journey and a learning process trying to find what is right for the character,” said Klinikowski, who began preparing for her audition a year in advance.
Preparing for their roles became even more strenuous once rehearsals began. For any given main-stage production, the cast and crew spent almost five weeks putting together a show, Veale said.
The cast rehearsed six days a week for up to five and a half hours on certain days.
Both Veale and Klinikowski are McGinnis Theatre veterans who were playing in their first lead roles. Veale has had supporting character roles in five ECU main-stage products; Klinikowski in four.
Director Jim Shearin served as a mentor for the cast, and especially for the two leads.
Klinikowski admired Shearin’s patience and dedication and noted its value in directing and essentially, in acting. “He has taught me to trust myself more,” she said.
“One of the key things he has taught me is to approach my craft with educated, well-informed, and specific choices that set you up for success on the stage,” said Veale.
“Specificity is absolutely crucial to our craft, and as [Constantin] Stanislavsky says ‘Generality is the enemy of all art.’ Without a doubt that is true for our process with ‘Three Penny Opera.’”
Both Veale and Klinikowski have one more year to perform on the McGinnis Theatre stage and are hoping “Threepenny Opera” is not their final production.
But this year, their focus is on their lead roles in the self-proclaimed “beggars’ opera,” which delivers a stinging satire on moral decadence in the bourgeois society of 1920s Berlin.
“While the political message is very deep and appropriate, this show is a whirlwind comedy and will keep the audience smiling virtually the entire show,” said Veale. “It is the perfect balance between comedic relief and serious thought-provoking art.”