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Bea Arthur to Headline 'Threepenny' for Fund

Many original cast members of the legendary 1954 production of "The Threepenny Opera" will reunite for a one-night-only performance to benefit the Actors' Fund of America Mon., Dec. 18. Bea Arthur, Charlotte Rae, William Duell and Jo Sullivan Loesser are among the original cast members who will perform a concert version of the Kurt Weill-Bertold Brecht musical (as adapted by Marc Blitzstein). Robert Cuccioli—who hadn't yet been born when the show opened at the Theatre de Lys 46 years ago—and George S. Irving, who joined the cast after the opening, will join them.

The reunion will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Lucille Lortel, who produced "Threepenny Opera" at her Theatre de Lys. The theatre, located at 121 Christopher St., has since been renamed the Lucille Lortel Theatre, and will be the site of the reunion concert.

This year is also the 100th anniversary of Weill's birth and the 50th anniversary of his death.

For the concert, Bea Arthur will play the role of "Pirate" Jenny, originally played by Weill's widow, Lotte Lenya. Donald Saddler will stage the concert and Glen Clugston will be musical director, using the original Weill orchestrations.

"The Threepenny Opera" shattered expectations when it opened in 1954. Originally written in 1928, it had already had one unsuccessful production in New York in 1933, and the source material, John Gay's 1728 musical "The Beggar's Opera," had been the basis for the Duke Ellington-John Latouche Broadway musical "Beggar's Holiday," which ran 111 performances in 1946 with Alfred Drake as Macheath and Zero Mostel as Mr. Peacham. Despite the limited expectations for the production at the de Lys, "Threepenny" ran for 2,611 performances.

The reunion concert will benefit the Actors' Fund of America, the only national non-profit organization that provides for the social welfare of all entertainment professionals. Its programs include education and training, financial planning, health awareness, and housing.

Tickets for the event are $100 each, and may be ordered by calling (212) 221-7300, ext. 203.

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