Bring on the Bad Guys
When times get tough, the tough get twisted. With a struggling economy and rising unemployment, now is the perfect time for a stylish anti-hero to hit the stage in the city's Downtown theater district. This week, frequent Milwaukee stage bad guy Jeremy Welter plays the sociopathic Macheath in Off the Wall Theatre's production of the classic Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht musical 3Penny Opera.
Welter is no stranger to villainous characters. In the recent past, he has played everyone from Renfield in Dracula and Alex in A Clockwork Orange to the title character in Hamlet. Time and again he has shown remarkable talent for imbuing mentally imbalanced villainy with a charismatic presence. Welter, far from being just another pretty face, will likely give the impression that he could actually commit the alleged acts of "Mack the Knife." Welter's wild energy should ignite this production.
Director Dale Gutzman's staging of the musical should aid Welter's performance. Stage designer David Roper has created a layout that will allow the performances to surround and penetrate the audience. Actors will speak and sing in a way that amplifies the intimacy of Off the Wall's tiny space across from the Pabst Theater on East Wells Street.
Joining Welter will be Liz Mistele in the role of Mack's love interest, Polly, who agrees to marry Mack after knowing him for only a few days. Mistele, a captivating young talent, is a brilliant choice for the role. The play is set in the oversaturated darkness of a dismal Victorian London as envisioned by Brecht in the late 1920s, and Mistele often moves across the stage with the grace of a 1920s silent-film actress, which should add an interesting element to the production.
Another major talent featured in the cast is David Flores in the role of Polly's father-a powerful man who wants Macheath hanged. Flores knows how to draw strong emotions from a scene, so look for him to create dynamic interactions between his character and the rest of the cast.
Off the Wall's 3Penny Opera runs Feb. 19 through March 1.