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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review: The Wild Party

The Dysfunction of Theatre - with music!
In Your Face delivers the goods - with bathtub gin, cocaine and lust
By Christopher lane

Step back into 1928 New York with In Your Face Entertainment’s current production of The Wild Party, directed by Jonathan Patterson and playing at Mainline Theatre. The musical, by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe, takes place at a party hosted by Queenie and Burrs, a dysfunctional couple entrenched in the world of vaudeville. Their flamboyant parade of guests all seem to come to the party with differing intentions, which lead to some dramatic results at the party fuelled by bathtub gin, cocaine and lust.

The story starts off with an altercation between Queenie and Burrs, who decide to throw a party to make up for their disintegrating relationship. Soon, the party begins as we are introduced to all of the guests in turn. They include a lively cast of characters connected to the vaudeville world, and all with a lust for something.

The Wild Party has a lot of fun musical numbers, but with some darker parts mixed in, particularly towards the end of the party as it becomes seedier and the lead characters start to question themselves and their relationships. The cast successfully embodies the spirit of an uninhibited party of the Roaring Twenties, with flashy dancing and entertaining musical performances.

Mainline Theatre provides an appropriately intimate setting for a musical that centres around a very intimate party, both emotionally and certainly physically.

The central storyline at the party is that of Queenie and Burrs, and how Queenie’s old friend and foe Kate and her date, Black, become intertwined with the couple. Mike Melino is one of the highlights of the production in his powerful performance as Burrs, an unpredictable and troubled character who becomes more complex as the play develops. Maggie Owen shines as the vivacious Queenie, and while her voice sometimes lacked volume, the emotion she packed into it kept her songs interesting. Simon Chaussé was notable for his rich singing voice as Black.

All of the other characters provided enjoyable side-stories, with a good dose of humour provided by Karl Werleman and Daniel Torchinsky as the out-of-place Gold and Goldberg, as well as Avi Bendahan and a sassy Dane Stewart as an oddly intimate pair of performing brothers. Nadia Verucci added some spice to the play as an aging but still alluring star trying to regain her former glory, while most of the rest of the cast were more than suitable for their roles.

Mainline Theatre provides an appropriately intimate setting for a musical that centres around a very intimate party, both emotionally and certainly physically. It enables the audience to be truly drawn in to the story, as we can easily understand their reactions to an array of revealing scenarios. The cast, crew and five-piece band do a great job at evoking the atmosphere of the era in their production while putting on an enjoyable show that is stylish, dark, and of course, wild.

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