'Threepenny Opera' helmer was 84

Legit producer-director Carmen Capalbo, who directed the 1954 revival of “The Threepenny Opera” Off Broadway and preem of Eugene O’Neill’s “Moon for the Misbegotten” in 1957 on Broadway, died Sunday in Manhattan of emphysema. He was 84.

Capalbo directed the Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill classic at what is now the Lucille Lortel theater for a record 2,611 perfs. “Opera” earned a special Tony even though it was an Off Broadway tuner. Weill’s widow, Lotte Lenya, won a Tony for her role as Jenny.

Born in Harrisburg, Pa., Capalbo started out at the age of 13 in local community theater. He served in the Army during WWII and then went to Yale Drama School. At Yale, he formed the Spur Rep with Leo Lieberman. He directed Spur’s productions of “Juno and the Paycock” and “Awake and Sing!” at the Cherry Lane theater.

Following stints at Paramount as a story reader and CBS’ “Studio One,” he returned to the theater. Partnering with Stanley Chase, whom he met at “Studio One,” Capalbo revived “The Threepenny Opera.” The two also produced and helmed Graham Greene’s “The Potting Shed,” William Saroyan’s “The Cave Dwellers” and Ellick Moll’s “Seidman and Son.”

Other theater credits include Weill’s “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny,” which starred Estelle Parsons and Barbara Harris. His last outing was a tuner version of Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen,” which he exited after two disappointing previews in 1988.

He is survived by a son, a daughter, and a sister.

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