Reviewed by Paula Citron
The new George F. Walker/John Roby musical King of Thieves, commissioned by the Stratford festival is, in a word, a mess.
The production is another version of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera. Unfortunately, unlike Brecht/Weill’s The Threepenny Opera with its biting satire and memorable characters, Walker’s plot presents threads of ideas that never come together to create anything meaningful.
The story, such as it is, is set in the late 1920s where the FBI coerces Peachum, a fence, and Mac, a thief, to help entrap some bad news bankers. Given the corporate crime blotter that dominates the news of today with its Ponzi schemes and fraud scams, this musical could really have made a statement.
Roby’s jazz-influenced score is attractive, and Walker has written some clever lyrics, but as it stands now, the musical needs serious work. Neither director Jennifer Tarver nor a talented cast can rise above the weak material.
King of Thieves continues at the Studio Theatre until Sept. 18.
King of Thieves
Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Book and lyrics by George F. Walker
Songs and music by John Roby
Directed by Jennifer Tarver
Starring Seán Cullen, Evan Buliung, Oliver Becker, Jay Brazeau, Nora McLellan, Nigel Bennett and Laura Condlln
Studio Theatre, Jul. 18 to Sept. 18, 2010