Dominion Stage The Wild PartyBy Laura & Mike Clark • Jan 12th, 2008 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of the Dominion Stage production of The Wild Party [MP3 9:08 4.2MB].
Gunston Theater, Arlington, VA
Through January 27
Mike: The Wild Party is advertised as “Gin, Skin, Sin and Fun.” They had the gin, skin, and sin, but the characters in the show were not having fun.
Laura: I came away feeling sad and kind of dirty after watching some of the scenes and actions that went on on stage. It was sort of a depressing show with a lot of flare and color.
Mike: The Wild Party is a musical based on the classic poem by Joseph Moncure March. The show includes lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa. Manhattan decadence in the 1920s provides the backdrop for this tough musical fable. Queenie, a vaudeville chorine, hosts the blow-out of the title with her vicious lover, a black-face minstrel. The guests are a vivid collection of the unruly and the undone including Queenie’s conniving rival, a cocaine-sniffing bisexual playboy, a washed-up boxer, a black brother act, a diva of indeterminable age and infinite life experience, the fresh-off-the-farm ingénue whose naiveté quickly evaporates, a lesbian actress and her comatose girlfriend, and the bargain basement Valentino who catches Queenie’s roving eye. The jazz and gin soaked party rages to a mounting sense of threat as artifice and illusion are stripped away. When midnight debauchery leads them to tragedy at dawn, the high-flying characters land with a sobering thud, reminding us that no party lasts forever.
Laura: The show opens with Queenie, played by Elizabeth Yates, and Burrs, played by Patrick McMahan, in their New York City apartment. They are bored and unsettled with life so they decide to have a big blow out party to try to raise them out of their doldrums.
Mike: Queenie and Burrs’ relationship was on the rocks. They thought this superficial wild party that they could throw would fix everything. They weren’t quite sure what was going to happen except that it was going to be a wild party. As the different guests stared arriving, you realized anything could happen, and did happen.
Laura: Queenie, the hostess of the evening was played by Elizabeth Yates. Throughout the entire evening I felt like she was playing it flat. Not a lot of emotion except a heck of a lot of cynicism. She did not seem happy about her life and her situation. She was looking in all the wrong places to try to find happiness and fulfillment.
Mike: I don’t think she had the right stage presence for Queenie. She was almost too depressed and too out of it even though she was playing the act of playing a fun girl and a play girl at the wild party. Her heart wasn’t in it. I think to some extent she did get across the depression and the way Queenie was feeling. I think that worked out pretty well.
Queenie’s lover Burrs was played by Patrick McMahan. He had a strong presence. He was so jealous it was standing out all over him. At the same time he was watching her he didn’t mind flirting with the other people at the party. He loved playing host to all his friends and being the center of the party even if he wasn’t the main action at the party.
Laura: Just like Queenie, Burrs was trying to get out of his feelings of anger and jealousy. He really was a two-timer. He wanted Queenie all to himself yet he was willling to go other places for fulfillment. Just like the rest of the cast he was sad and depressing.
Mike: The other primary couple of the show was Kate and Black. Kate was played by Richelle “Rikki” Howie and Black was played by James Finley. They also had a simple love/hate relationship. They “loved” each other in that they both gave each other pleasure and they liked what the other person was. As for a real relationship, there really wasn’t one. I think the contempt they felt for each other that grew throughout the evening was pretty well performed by both of them.
Laura: Richelle “Rikki” Howie I thought did a good job. She has a good strong voice and a great presence on stage. And kind of took control of the room. I liked her. One of her quotes I thought was interesting was when she and Black came into the room and were talking, she made the comment that he could do what he wanted, but he was going to be leave with her. It was an interesting plot point.
Mike: Black was debonair and out of place. He didn’t quite know what the rules were. The rules were there were no rules at the party and he didn’t quite get that. He had a really good scene with Queenie out on the balcony of the apartment overlooking the city. They had a nice little conversation where it was revealed that neither of them had drunk any of the gin that was served. I liked that scene. It was tender especially when you contrast that with what’s happening in the apartment behind them.
Laura: I would have liked to have found out more about Black. He was kind of one dimensional. I wish there had been more time for the two of them to get to know each other and develop his character a bit more. He, too had a very nice voice.
Mike: The rest of the group was very nicely cast. They were pretty much on stage almost the entire show once they came on stage for the wild party itself. You didn’t get to know any of them really well except through their songs and watching them in the background of someone else’s scene. I think they all worked together really well. It was a very close cast (especially for some of the scenes). Some of the things that weren’t obvious from the watching the show included Phil and Oscar. I did not realize they were brothers. Little things like that escaped me, but over all I think everybody did a good job with this material.
Laura: One person I thought was funny who wasn’t one of the main characters was Sally, played by Erin Branigan. She was hysterical! She was so out of it the entire time. Just kind of wandering around the stage. I don’t know why I found that so funny, but I did.
Mike: She had one solo, “After Midnight Dies.” That was a really good song. I liked the spotlight they were able to put on her.
Laura: The set for The Wild Party I thought was good. Scenic Design and Painting Design were done by Helen McCarthy. It really fit well. You were looking at the people and not the set. The set was there to accentuate the songs and dancing and action going on.
Mike: The set was made up of multi level platforms that gave you lots of different areas to see different actions happening. The lighting worked well. Lighting Designer was Jeffrey Scott Auerbach. There were a few times when it was difficult to see what was happening on stage (although at points you really don’t want to see what’s happening on stage). There were times when I really couldn’t see the expression on some people’s faces because it was so dark on stage.
Laura: The Music Directors were John-Michael d’Haviland and William D. Parker, who was also the show’s Director. One thing I didn’t like was that for a lot of the show I couldn’t understand what people were saying. It was really loud and the sound went everywhere. The only time I could hear people clearly was on a solo. Even the duets sometimes I couldn’t hear what they were singing. It was a little hard to get into the show because I couldn’t hear what was going on.
Mike: There were microphone problems throughout the show. Characters would drop in and out. There was a lot of rustling because the costumes were rubbing against the microphones I assume. That will all get worked out. This was opening night, but it was a distraction during this performance.
Laura: The Wild Party was a musical and therefore it had a full orchestra. It did a good job. There was a lot of music being played, at times quite fast.
Mike: There were a few spots where it seemed like the orchestra was a beat off. The person on stage would finish their line and then had to wait a couple beats for the music to start so they could start singing their next song. Although not distracting it did jump at me a couple times.
Laura: The Wild Party is playing through January 27th. Friday and Saturdays at 8 PM. Sunday matinees on the 20th and 27th at 2:30 at the Gunston Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia. This is a show for mature audiences only, and runs about two hours long with no intermission.
Mike: If you’ve seen the show, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Simply leave a comment here on ShowBizRadio.net. We’d also like to invite you to join our free mailing list so you can stay informed with the latest happenings in the DC Area community theater.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
Photos provided by Dominion Stage
- Queenie: Elizabeth Yeats
- Burrs: Patrick McMahan
- Jackie: Harv Lester
- Miss Madeline True: Sally Kiernan
- Sally: Erin Branigan
- Eddie Mackrel: John-Michael d’Haviland
- Mae: Elizabeth Hester
- Nadine: Erin Richardson
- Phil D’Amarno: Vincent Rowe
- Oscar D’Amarno: Kevin McAllister
- Dolores Montoya: KJ Jacks
- Gold: Jon Keeling
- Goldberg: Joshua Schwartz
- Black: James Finley
- Kate: Richelle “Rikki” Howie
- Conductor: Leah Kocsis
- Reeds: Alisha Coleman, Dana Gardner, Gwyn Jones, Blake Rose
- Trumpet: Paul Weiss
- Bass: Jean Finstead III, Richard Netherton
- Piano: Michael (Mickey) Daguiso, Alan Margolis
- Drums: Anders Eliasson, Lee. W. Hinkle
- Producer: David M. Moretti
- Director: William D. Parker
- Music Directors: John-Michael d’Haviland, William D. Parker
- Choreographer: Catherine Oh
- Stage Manager: Joan A.S, Lada
- Combat Choreographer/Firearms Specialist: Steve Lada
- Scenic and Painting Design: Helen McCarthy
- Master Carpenter: Hector Lorenzini
- Costume Design: Robin Covington
- Lighting Design: Jeffery Scott Auerbach
- Sound Design: Keith Bell, David Correia
- Set Dressing: Elisa Mae Duffner, Hector Lorenzini
- Custom Furniture Design/ Construction: Bruce Cox
- Properties Design: Michelle Bell
- Orchestra Conductor: Leah Kocsis
- Dance Captain: Mark Hidalgo
- Makeup and Hair Consultants: Sar Charbonneau, Robin Covington, Malca Giblin
- Assistant Stage Managers: Steve Lada, Don McMinn
- Set Construction Crew: Jeff Auerbach, Bruce Cox, Steve Lada, Dave Moretti
- Set Painting Crew: Ken Clayton, Elsie Mae Duffner, Helen McCarthy, Scott Olson
- Stage Crew: Spencer Lepler, Helen Bard Sobola
- Light board operator: Joni Hughes
- Rehearsal Pianists: Mickey Daguiso, John-Michael d’Haviland, Alan Margolis
- Auditions: Jeff Auerbach, Katie Gentic, Steve Lada, Jessie Roberts
- Marketing Campaign/ Logo Design: Dave Moretti
- Marketing/Press Photography: Jarret Baker
- Program Consultant: Laury Sendek
- Program Printer: Mid Valley Press, Verona, VA
- Lobby Display: Spencer Lepler
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/2135.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.