Langston Hughes' Poetic Genius Comes to Life in Kurt Weill's Opera, 'Street Scene,' at WWU April 14-16

The Music Department and the Department of Theatre and Dance at Western Washington University are proud to present “Street Scene,” an opera featuring the lyrics of Langston Hughes and music by Kurt Weill, based on a play of the same name by Elmer Rice.

The production is set to take place on April 14-16 at the Western Washington University Performing Arts Center. 

'Street Scene' will run April 14-16 at the Western Washington University Performing Arts Center.

“Street Scene” is a poignant and powerful exploration of the human condition, set against the backdrop of the bustling city streets. With its compelling lyrics and soaring music, the opera weaves together stories of love, loss, and redemption in a way that is both deeply moving and highly entertaining. 

The plot centers around the conflicts and entanglements between residents of a New York City tenement building in the heat of summer in the 1940s. At the heart of the tale is the Maurrant family whose tragic story is contrasted throughout the opera with moments of humor, joy, and hope. 

Kurt Weill conceived of "Street Scene" as a groundbreaking synthesis of European traditional opera and American musical theater. Musically and culturally, even dramatically, the work inhabits the mid-ground between Weill's Threepenny Opera (1928) and Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story (1957). Weill received the inaugural Tony Award for Best Original Score for his work, after the Broadway premiere in 1947. The opera is based on the original play by Elmer Rice, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1929.

The production will be directed by Heather Dudenbostel, with musical direction by Mark Davies. The cast and crew are composed of students from both departments, with the Music Department providing the orchestra under the baton of Ryan Dudenbostel. 

Performances of “Street Scene” will take place at 7:30 p.m. on April 14 and 15, and at 2 p.m. on April 16. Tickets range from $10 to $27 and can be purchased online at, or by calling the box office at 360-650-6146. The ticket window is open for walk-up purchases an hour before performances. 183 seats are set aside on opening night only for free admission to WWU students who show their ID at the door.