Los Angeles Times THEATER
Friday, March 6, 1998

Theater Beat
High Spirits Imbue This 'Beggar's Opera'

Don't be misled by the shopping mall surroundings--professional polish and high-energy exuberance distinguish the Pasadena Shakespeare Company's handsome revival of "The Beggar's Opera."
 For all its potshots at social hypocrisy, John Gay's 18th century satirical classic is a frothier, zippier affair than the darker Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill "Threepenny Opera" adaptation, and director Dana Marley delivers a suitably spirited staging.
     The ensemble achieves exactly the right balance of focused conviction and breezy comedy to propel the schemes of greedy Peachum (charismatic David Paul Needles) against the roguish charmer MacHeath (Mark McCandless, looking reminiscent of Laurence Olivier in Peter Brook's film version). Jennie Fahn and Dorothy Elias-Fahn are a hoot as bigamous MacHeath's brace of not-so-blushing brides; other standouts include Jane Macfie's perfidious Mrs. Peachum, Jerry Neill as the larcenous jailer Lockit and Michelle Smith as Jenny, the traitorous tart.
     The literate and witty production further benefits from tight musical accompaniment under Steve Hill's direction and inventive choreography by Gregory Scott Young. This is one opera that begs no indulgences.
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     * "The Beggar's Opera," on second floor (296) of the Plaza Pasadena, Euclid and Green streets. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Ends March 22. $17. (626) 564-8564. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.