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Few Broadway stars can boast that their own soap-and-perfume line is for sale in the theater lobby. This retail coup has, though, been wrangled by Alan Cumming, the compulsively watchable satyr of an actor who headlines in the Roundabout Theater Company’s The Threepenny Opera. When intermission arrives at this bracingly dark musical, and you stroll from your seat to stretch your legs, you find yourself contemplating a display of Cumming’s cosmetics, which include a cologne, a body lotion, and a soap. According to a report in the Village Voice, the cologne contains top notes of whiskey and bergamot, and core notes of cigar, Douglas Fir, and rubber.

The vendor booth bears witness to the odd mixture of commercial and artistic forces brought to play in this prickly, provocative Threepenny, staged at Studio 54 (the former nightclub) by director Scott Elliott. The show has generated oceans of buzz with its involvement of celebrities, and I’m not talking about the iconic Germans, Bertolt Brecht (playwright) and Kurt Weill (composer), who created Threepenny in 1928. Far more hype-worthy these days are pop diva Cyndi Lauper (“Girls Just Want to Have Fun”), who portrays the prostitute Jenny in this production, and chanteuse Nellie McKay, who does a sly turn as the innocent-well, somewhat innocent-heroine Polly Peachum.

Wait, there’s more! Veteran thespian Jim Dale, who portrays Polly’s scheming father, Mr. Peachum...

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About the Author

Celia Wren is Commonweal’s media and stage critic.