Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'

Review_Gravity_Defieds_production_of_Lippas_The_Wild_Party_20010101

Any party thrown with intentions other than to just have a good time has the chance of possibly turning into a disaster. And that's exactly what happens in this excellent production of Andrew Lippa's "The Wild Party" now playing at the Aurora Fox Arts Center. It is the regional premier presented by Gravity Defied Theatre.


Based on the 1928 narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March, "The Wild Party" tells the story of Queenie and Burrs and their stormy sleaze and kink laden relationship. Along the way we meet some of their friends and guests at the party. You see, Queenie decided to throw a big party...to embarrass Burrs and of course the guests have no idea. As they booze it up and bump and grind their way through the evening, things start to fall apart.

"The Wild Party" is definitely for adults. Gravity Defied lets you know that before going in and you will see why! In this, their inaugural season, they are presenting their most daring show with "The Wild Party". In between the bumping and grinding you will also find partial nudity. You will also find some of Lippa's best songs and a very talented cast.

As Queenie, 18 year old Erica Vlahinos struts onto the stage in the very beginning and continues to for the next 2 hours. The show is vocally demanding and she seems to be up to the task slinking and flirting her way effortlessly across the stage seducing her guests and the audience simultaneously. Her chemistry with leading man, Keitlh Rabin, Jr., works beautifully. As Burrs, Mr. Rabin, Jr. does a fine job but does not give us enough of Burrs' dark side until the "Party" gets started. In Act two, he turns Burrs into the monster that we know he is. Mr. Rabin's "clown" is both frightening and sad . You may gasp when he launches into "Let Me Drown" and his character is revealed. Balancing Queenie and Burrs out are Kate and Black, played by Liz Bollar and Aaron Conklin. Ms Bollar brings down the house in the second Act with a cocaine induced song called "Life of the Party". She doesn't just sing the song but falls apart a bit at the end giving us a peek into her need to be the life of the party. Mr. Conklin plays a very smooth Black with a velvety voice. When he sings, you can hear the originator of this part, Taye Diggs, in your ears. It is a bit uncanny.

Outside of the foursome you need to keep your eyes on some of the guests. Of note, Erica Tristler as Medeleine True give a memorable performance with the song "Old Fashioned Love Story". Benjy Schirm and Chris Trimboli cavort around as the D'Armano brothers. And let's just say...they're close! Ryan Witt as the prizefighter and Amy Osatinski as his wife make a fun and at times funny couple.

The cast for "The Wild Party" is a large one. A lot of dancing is involved and although done well, Choreographed by Danny Harrigan, with a nod to Fosse, the cast seems to be a bit cramped at times not able to move as freely as the choreography seems to warrant. But this cast handles it well. The 8 piece band tucked away backstage brings the music to life. I would suggest that in the coming performances they are brought out onstage for the curtain call as the sound coming from that band is nothing short of fantastic. The set, costumes and lighting are all a notch above Gavity Defied's past productions. Even the set dressing is something to take note of.

Director Danny Harrigan has done a good job of taking a wild party and keeping things in order. He keeps the action flowing and during the quieter times when your focus is on one character still keeps you looking around the stage as there is always something happening somewhere on stage. But that never distracts you because, it's a party!

"The Wild Party" continues its run at The Aurora Fox Arts Center on the main stage. Weekend performances only on August 13, 14, 15th and August 20, 21, 22. For tickets and showtimes, visit www.rmarts.org.


Production photos courtesy of Jesse Hernandez.

Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'

Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'
The Party

Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'
Erica Vlahinos & the "Wild Party" cast

Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'
Liz Bollar & the "Wild Party" cast

Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'
Ryan Witt & Amy Osatinki with cast of "The Wild Party"

Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'
Erica Tristler

Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'
Aaron Conklin & Erica Vlahinos

Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'
Keith Rabin, Jr. & the cast of "The Wild Party"

Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'
Erica Vlahinos

Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'
The Party is on!

Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'
Keith Rabin, Jr & Erica Vlahinos

Review: Gravity Defied's Production of Lippa's 'The Wild Party'

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From This Author Greg Rice

Greg was born and raised in Pennsylvania, where he was a student at the Society Hill Playhouse in his senior year, and has been a (read more...)

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