Raucous, Risqué and Visually Stunning

The American Premiere of "The Busker's Opera," directed by Robert Lepage takes the stage at the Alexander Kasser Theater from February 9-12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 for the general public, $28 for MSU faculty/staff/graduate students and free of charge for MSU undergrads through the Performing Arts Fee. For tickets and information, call (973) 655-5112 or visit www.montclair.edu/kasser.

Do not expect a charming Verdi romance or Wagnerian epic when Award-winning Canadian artist Robert Lepage directs the American Premiere of "The Busker’s Opera." Instead, look for a biting satire of John Gay’s 18th Century masterpiece "The Beggar's Opera." In "Busker’s,” Lepage transplants the familiar characters of Macheath (Mac the Knife in Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s adaptation, "The Threepenny Opera"), Polly, Lucy and Jenny from London’s seedy criminal underworld to the equally sordid environment of today’s pop music industry. In place of Gay's highwaymen and cut-throats, Lepage uses aspiring musicians, groupies and entertainment lawyers to pull the rug out from under opera as high art and to comment on the politics of artistic freedom and commercial success. Like Gay's original, the entire story is told in song, in this case originals in the styles of hip-hop, punk, Broadway show tunes and everything in between. Lepage's cast of ten performers includes actors, musicians and a DJ who relentlessly poke fun at the conventions of real opera, barely able to carry a tune themselves in some cases. Raucous, risqué and visually stunning, "The Busker's Opera" promises an evening of guilty pleasure and pure entertainment for adventurous theatergoers.

A true renaissance man, Robert Lepage is also one of the busiest and most in-demand artists working today. In addition to MSU's presentation of "The Busker's Opera," Lepage's other February 2005 projects include "the far side of the moon" (featuring music by Laurie Anderson) at the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University and his one-man show, "The Andersen Project" (based on the life of Hans-Christian Andersen) which will premiere in Québec. Lepage is also hard at work on a collaboration with Cirque du Soleil on their new project for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas entitled "KÀ."