Cabaret Kurt Weill lived exactly half a century — 1900-1950. And he lived only half a life, if you project what he might have accomplished in a normal lifespan. The Jewish German-American expatriate composer/songwriter made a name for himself in his native country, then a bigger one over here after Hitler threatened Weill with persecution — a grim, oft-repeated story. Mary Lou Szczesiul and Jeff Owen star in ACT’s ‘Kurt Weill, from "Mack the Knife" to "September Song."’ A classically trained composer, Weill quickly dabbled into musical theater and German cabaret music, bringing along certain avant-garde elements from his background and making them uniquely palatable in the German pop sphere. Because of his special identification with the cabaret, it was high time the American Cabaret Theatre devoted a show to Weill’s songs, which they are doing all this month. The two-act presentation, entitled Kurt Weill, from “Mack the Knife” to “September Song,” directed by Claude McNeal, features Mary Lou Szczesiul as Weill’s off-again, on-again wife — the actor/singer/dancer Lotte Lenya — who narrates. Act 1 opens with Lenya recounting her illustrious husband’s life in flashback, while mourning his recent death. Weill’s German-period songs comprise the first act, most especially from his The Threepenny Opera from 1929, with the book by Weill’s longtime lyricist Bertolt Brecht. In fact, of the 16 songs surveyed, 10 are from this one work, starting with the familiar “Ballad of Mack, the Knife” — actually “Moritat vom Mackie Messer” — as ACT cast member Jake Haley first sings it in German. “Mack the Knife” is revisited three more times in the production’s course — including as its final number. Other songs featured during Weill’s German period are from The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1930) and Happy End (1929), with Brecht supplying the book for both. As Lenya tells us, Mahagonny is a mythical “American” city. Act 2 features Weill’s songs from such American productions as The Seven Deadly Sins (1933 — Brecht), Marie Galante (1934 — Jacques Deval), Johnny Johnson (1936 — Paul Green) and Knickerbocker Holiday (1938 — Maxwell Anderson), from which “September Song” places Weill as an American “standard” composer. Hayley Bridgewater is the most versatile singer. Starting in a convincing, lower-pops register, she soars upward into an impressive soprano, delivering rich, on-pitch, dulcet tones. Szczesiul, however, dominates the production with her stylish singing, acting and German-inflected narration. Along with projected period artwork, photos and titles on the side screens, the ACT cast delivers a winner. Kurt Weill, from “Mack the Knife” to “September Song” continues Fridays and Saturdays through March 27; call 631-0334 for reservations.