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Staging a 'Wild Party' | Kitsap Week

Alison Standley stars as Kate in the “Wild Party.” - Ken Holmes photo
Alison Standley stars as Kate in the “Wild Party.”
— image credit: Ken Holmes photo

There are a lot of things that could be said about experiencing the musical “The Wild Party.” But perhaps Teresa Thuman has said it best.

“Get a babysitter,” Thuman said. “If there is ever time to get a babysitter, this is it.”

Thuman, an artistic director with the Sound Theatre Company, doesn’t dance around the mature content of the musical. The production is not for young audiences, she said.

The musical went over well with Seattle audiences. The company has performed it previously this season before taking it across the pond to Bainbridge Island.

“The Wild Party” will show at Bainbridge Performing Arts, Sept. 13-15 — Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 and the show is strictly for ages 18 and older.

Thuman noted that the musical is a welcome addition to Bainbridge Performing Arts’ season of more family-friendly productions.

“The Wild Party” is a musical written by Andrew Lippa and first performed in 1999. It has become widely known for its rather ribald content and mature material.

The musical is based on a 1928 narrative poem of the same name by Joseph Moncure March. The original poem delivered just as much of a shock as its modern musical adaptation. It was banned upon its release due to its racy storyline and situations.

Characters Queenie and Burrs are performers in New York’s vaudevillian scene of the 1920s. They gather a collection of friends to their Manhattan apartment for an evening party. Illegal booze, of course, is widely available.

But Queenie and Burrs’ relationship is on the rocks, and the night’s antics devolve into a series of confrontations and revelations.

“Burrs is a vaudeville clown, a twisted and warped guy,” Thuman said. “They have an intense relationship and it turns violent, and she plans this party as a way to get revenge and some control of the situation.”

Burrs’ treatment of Queenie doesn’t go over well with their guest, Mr. Black, who becomes quite attracted to her. Queenie flirts with Black in an attempt to make Burrs jealous, while at the same time Black’s date, Kate, is making the moves on Burrs. Their intentions and foolery cross lines as the party rages on into the night.

And of course, it’s all set to a score apt for the era.

“It’s almost a jazz opera,” Thuman said. “It has an operatic feel to it.”

And as an opera, it certainly carries plenty of drama with it.

“It’s a mix of upbeat on a twisted path,” Thuman said. “In terms of what they are doing to each other, psychologically, it gets a bit dark.”

“It has an edgy, fringe feel to it, in terms of content,” she added. “But it also has some incredible music to it.”

Musicals are challenging for the small theater company, Thuman noted. But “The Wild Party” was so distinctive that it was difficult to turn it away.

“It’s very different, and it’s very unique in terms of music theater,” she said. “It pushes boundaries.”

“The Wild Party” stars Tori Spero as Queenie, Troy Wageman as Burrs, Jesse Smith as Mr. Black, and Allison Standley as Kate.

Also starring DeSean Halley, McKenna Turner, Leslie Wisdom, Adrienne Baltz, Zandi Carlson, Ryan Patrick O’Donnell, James Sgambati, Katie Poor, Matt Fulbright, Justin Carrell, and Sara Trowbridge.

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