BWW Review: THE WILD PARTY at The Constellation Theatre
Queenie and Burrs are the story of a once steamy love gone stale. Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party tells their story as they lash out in manipulation and jealousy. Directed by Allison Arkell Stockman, The Constellation Theatre's production opened on September 21. Told against the backdrop of a seedy New York City apartment in the 1920's, this musical is good dirty fun. As all musical theatre fans know, nothing is sexier than the sound of a muted trumpet in low lighting.
Lippa's text and story are lifted from the 1928 poem "The Wild Party" by Joseph Moncure March (originally written in 1926, but due to its explicit nature wasn't published until 1928. One must wonder what changed in those two years.)
Farrell Parker plays Queenie, whose relationship with the violent Burrs, played by Jimmy Mavrikes, is the catalyst for the show's action. Will he cheat on her? Will she cheat on him? Let's throw a whopping rager and find out! Both actors have powerhouse voices, but their onstage chemistry falls a bit short of their supposedly hyper sexual characters.
In addition to Queenie and Burrs is their ragtag group of friends, who have the exhausting task of remaining onstage for most of the show. They rise to the challenge and do a fantastic job maintaining each scene's energy. In particular, the scenes "A Wild, Wild Party" and "Raise the Roof" are certain to get your foot tapping. Notable standouts include Kate (Kari Ginsburg), Madeleine True (Rachel Barlaam), and Phil and Oscar d'Armano (Tiziano D'Affuso and Christian Montgomery.) Their acting anchors the show and maintains the illusion that you are a fly on the wall at the sauciest party that ever was.
This show attempts an engaging storyline, but Lippa sacrifices plot in favor of overly complicated musical numbers. Thankfully, the cast is composed of strong singers who pull off the music with gusto-a feat no doubt owed to the skillful guidance of music director Walter "Bobby" McCoy.
Also worth noting is costume designer Erik Teague's contribution to the production. Each costume is full of whimsical detail and pizzazz. Torn stockings, garter belts, and paste jewels included. It's easy for the audience to understand each character simply through the clothes they are wearing-or lack thereof. (On that note, when the Constellation Theatre recommends this show for audiences eighteen years or older-they mean it.)
Let's be clear: Bob Fosse and Kander and Ebb have the monopoly on sultry Jazz Age musicals; however, that doesn't mean The Wild Party isn't a fun night on the town.
The Wild Party will be at The Constellation Theatre through October 29, 2017. Tickets are available at their website. The show runs for well-paced 2 hours and 30 minutes plus a fifteen minute intermission.
Photography credit to Daniel Schwartz