Bail Out The Musical: Sell Out, Louise!
For any theatre artist, especially in New York, there's a perennial conflict between making art for art's sake and making the money it takes to actually live. This clash is explored in Wreckio Ensmble's new play Bail Out: The Musical, which, despite the unpromising title, is an entertaining piece with a lot of theatrical flair.
Written by the company/actors (Randi Berry, Dechelle Damien, Kimberlea Kressal, Karly Maurer, & Benjamin Spradley), the play begins with star-struck aspiring performance artist Sept Ember (Randi Berry) leaving behind her old life in the Midwest to make it big in New York City. She immediately meets Violet Parfait (Anna Lamadrid), a lesbian burlesque artist, and Gert Jana (Lauren Turner Kiel), a feminist writer/actress, who tell her that she's too late; in the new economy, off-off-Broadway is dead. They all wait on line to see what industries the government will bail out, there meeting Sept Ember's idol, the grande dame shartist Cecelia Dorrega (Dechelle Damien) and her collaborator Archibald Brue (Benjamin Spradley), who's recently been released from a mental institution. They discover that The Government does plan to bail out the performing arts (with guaranteed jobs, actual money, and health insurance!), but with several stipulations, the most important being that the work must be pro-America, life-affirming, and a musical- thus taking the country's mind off its collective troubles. Fortunately Sept Ember has unwillingly done her share of musicals in Wisconsin, and is able to guide the performance artists to a vision of wholesome entertainment, encountering resistance (and many drafts of the script) along the way. Oh, and there's Otto, a rather hairy mime (Billy Pelt), who plays music for the show.
The cast is an incredible collection of amusing theatre types, from Lamadrid's world-weary ecdysiast, to Berry's hilarious straight-out-of-42nd Street ingénue, to Keil's neurotic writer, Damien's straight-talkin' Serious Artist, and Spradley's fragile actor.
The show is well-directed by Kimberlea Kressal, who makes inventive use of every nook and cranny of the stage at Under St. Marks, with help from Pamela Kupper's great lighting design.
The show's not perfect; it ends merely with the final bowdlerized presentation of the piece, lacking a real resolution. Some of the minor subplots are muddied or dropped entirely (Violet has a child we only hear about once, etc...). It's not entirely satisfying, but still it's a thought-provoking (and, yes, entertaining) piece of theatre.
Bail Out The Musical
Wreckio Ensemble www.wreckio.com
Under St. Marks - (94 St. Marks Place between 1st Ave and Ave A)
December 9-20, Thursday through Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm.
Tickets ($20) are available by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444 or online at www.horseTRADE.info
Photo Credit: Elizabeth White