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BWW Review: WILD PARTY Captivates the Crowd at CSUF

BWW Review: WILD PARTY Captivates the Crowd at CSUF
Hannah Clair (Queenie)
Christopher Mosley (Black)
Photo by Mark Ramont

Closing off their Spring 2017 Season, California State University, Fullerton's Theater Department took a daring leap in putting on a production of THE WILD PARTY, and in doing so, captivated their audience with a crazy, disaster-filled night of entertainment. Written by Andrew Lippa and based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March, this musical follows the downward spiral of the relationship between Burrs and Queenie. In an effort to sabotage Burrs for abusing her, Queenie decides to host a party for all their friends, and while getting entangled in a night of dancing and drinking, everyone else becomes entangled with the wrong romantic partner in all the wrong ways. Directed by Jeremy Lewis, this CSUF production showcased a deeply dark, daring, and heartbreaking yet simultaneously lively "wild party" in every sense of the word.

Leading the audience through her rocky romantic life, Hannah Clair, made her first appearance on stage hanging upside down from a pole, teasing the audience with her looks, voice, and dancing, playing a seriously troubled yet exceptionally manipulative Queenie. Despite her complicated intentions, Clair brings an understanding to her portrayal of Queenie, where you can't help but take her side. In turn, Cody Bianchi played a cynical, dark yet complicated Burrs, bringing himself to the brink, then over the edge of, insanity. With his own captivating voice, Clair and Bianchi playing opposite each other made for an incredible contrast not only visually, but also vocally, as their voices worked well together from moments of deep love to arguments of deep hatred. Beyond the phenomenal acting and dancing, their voices alone, showed all the complexities of their relationship and brought the question of trust, love, and revenge in a person to life.

Through Lippa's flashy number "What A Party," the audience was introduced to many of Queenie and Burrs's friends - and every performer who walked through the doors of their house delivered an impressive and spectacular performance from the second they introduced themselves. With the cast giving a crazy sexual and energetic welcome to the party, by the time you think it couldn't get any more wild, Samantha Wojtaszek breaks down doors with her remarkable entrance singing "Look At Me Now" as a daring and cunning Kate. Kate brings her date, Black (Christopher Mosley) to the party, and Mosley's portrayal of Black made it easy to see why Queenie would leave Burrs for him if she could. Mosley's soulful voice and dashing appearance brought the only sense of affection, reality, and honesty to the setting, making the audience question the whole purpose of the party all over again.

As the night rages on, Queenie and Black begin to fall for each other while Kate is constantly trying to make Burrs do the same with her. In turn, the guests of the party don't shy away from love and quickly grow close to any partner they can find, leaving lesbian Madelaine True (Monique Chelsy Burias Magpayo) to question where her lover is in "An Old Fashioned Love Story." Magpayo's rendition of the song had the audience laughing the loudest they have all night, proving her talent as a performer had nothing to do with her role as simply another guest at the party. Bringing in some much needed laughter, Magpayo was one of the highlights of the show.

Under the brilliant choreography of William F. Lett, the cast delivered a thrilling dance number with moves straight from the 1920's in "The Juggernaut," showcasing the talent of the entire company. However, while the dancing and action was happening on the dancefloor, party guests Eddie (Kyle Kayvaun Pazdel) and Mae (Megan Hill) gave an unbelievable aerial duet performance with silks and poles in mid-air, a mirror to the twisted complexities of love. CSUF's display of dance was at its finest as dancer Jackie (Colby Hamann) so eloquently performed "Jackie's Last Dance" in the midst of the ruins of his drunken, broken friends at a party gone wrong.

BWW Review: WILD PARTY Captivates the Crowd at CSUF
Cody Bianchi (Burrs)
Hannah Clair (Queenie)
Photo by Jordan Kubat

Behind the choreography was what sounded like incredible and professionally played live music. Music Director Mitchell Hanlon, leading a phenomenal band, though unseen, delivered incredible musical numbers to back up each singer and dancer. Backed by a lively, powerful, and strong-voiced ensemble, the four-part voice combination of Clair, Bianchi, Wojtaszek, and Mosley's voices made for a stunning and enthralling night of performance.

The CSUF theater department closed off their Spring Season with nothing short of spectacular. The cast, crew, and band of this production of WILD PARTY brought, to the Young Theater, darkness and life at the same time.

More of California State University, Fullerton's Department of Theater and Dance's productions can be found here:

Show Artwork by Alvin Chiu

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