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Posts Tagged ‘Threepenny Opera’

Bea Arthur as the original Lucy Brown

It’s one of those cases of one thing reminding you of something else.  I heard Bobby Darin’s swinging version of Mack the Knife yesterday and there’s a line that ends with and Lucy Brown.  One of those parts of a song that your mind is somehow attuned to and always hears whenever the song is played.

Anyway, it immediately reminded me of  seeing Bea Arthur, of Maude and Golden Girls fame, a number of years back in a one-woman show on Broadway of personal stories and song.   Going in, I knew only a little of her career outside the TV roles so I didn’t have high expectations.  I was pleasantly surprised by a great show.

 I didn’t know much of her Broadway career and didn’t know she originated the role of Lucy Brown in the original Broadway version of The Threepenny Opera back in the ’50’s.  She told several great tales about the show and then did a stirring version of the The Pirate Jenny.

I’m embarassed to say that I didn’t know much about The Threepenny Opera or Brecht or Kurt Weill.  Had never heard the The Pirate Jenny and it’s story of a cleaning woman who daydreams of rising from her life of powerless drudgery to become a powerful and cruel pirate.  Great song with great imagery and Bea Arthur’s version was wonderful.  Angry.  You could feel her desire for retribution for every time she was wronged by those who simply overlooked her and  took her for granted.  It was a very powerful song and one that became and remains a personal favorite.

Anyway, here’s a very good version of The Pirate Jenny from singer Anne Kerry Ford:

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When most people think of paintings by Georges Seurat, the French pointillist painter, they probably think first of his famous painting,Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte which is probably remembered by many as Sunday In the Park With George , from the Stephen Sondheim play which revolves around the Seurat painting.  For me, the Seurat paintings that spring to mind are a couple of his pieces that revolve around the circus, such as the one at the top of this post, Circus Sideshow.

For me, this painting just has magical, mysterious  feel.  I can imagine the tinny sound of the musicians, a kind Kurt Weill/Threepenny Opera  quiet cacophony.  The composition of this piece also reads very easily into my brain and I find myself excited by it to the point of envisioning work of my own that will borrow from  the light and dark blocking of the piece, the way the figures are between dark borders formed by the patterned edge at the top and  the shadowy people at the bottom.

While I can appreciate many paintings just for what they are and their own sheer beauty, it’s the paintings that spark something in myself, that inspire something in my own work from some connection in that painting that jumps out at me, that are usually my favorites. These Seurat circus paintings do that for me.  While I find many of Seurat’s other paintings pleasant enough and lovely to see, they don’t fire my imagination in the same way.

Maybe it’s the subject matter.  Maybe it’s the angular edges in these compositions compared to the softer , rounder edges of  the Park painting, for instance.  Maybe it something as simple of the colors of these pieces.  I don’t know.  I just know they make me want to get something down on paper or canvas quick before the inspiration fades.


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