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‘The Wild Party’ brings the Roaring ’20s to Bainbridge
Looking for a nice wholesome and cultured family night out at the theatre?
Then this show is not for you.
Looking for a sexy and scandalous homage to a bygone era?
Then get yourself to “The Wild Party.”
The musical, inspired by the banned 1928 poem by Joseph Moncure March, tells the sordid and steamy tale of what happens when a group of burlesque dancers come together for a crazy evening in the Manhattan apartment of vaudevillians Queenie and Burns.
A mysterious newcomer complicates their already strained relationship and challenges the group’s thrill-seeking high life. Erotic and entertaining shenanigans ensue, all set against the backdrop of the capital city of entertainment at the height of the decadent Jazz Age. It’s an appropriate ending for Sound Theatre Company’s summer run at BPA.
“I call it a ‘jazz opera,’” said Sound Theatre Company producer Teresa Thuman.
“It is pretty much jazz musical theatre from start to finish,” she said. “It draws a lot from the poem it is based on, which is essentially used as lyrics and it maintains a very heightened sense through the show.”
The show, praised as “spectacular” and a “sultry good time” by the Seattle Times, is also most definitely for adults only.
“It is very, very mature subject matter,” Thuman said. “There is some very explicit content and some violence that keeps it firmly with it’s R rating.”
The show will play a limited, one-weekend only, engagement at Bainbridge Performing Arts with shows at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14 and a matinee at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15.
With the continued success of the musical, and the critically acclaimed most recent remake of “The Great Gatsby,” movie, theatre audiences seem unable to get enough of the nostalgia and romanticism of the Roaring ’20s.
“It was such a time of excess and extravagance,” Thuman said. “I think now we look back on that time critically, we love to imagine the reckless indulgence, but we are keenly aware of the lurking social and economic disaster of the stock market crash of 1929. There is something about the freedom and abandon of that time that is perpetually seductive to us.”
Beyond the scandal and spectacle of the show, Thuman said that there are real themes at work in the story, and numerous noteworthy performances by a talented cast and crew who, despite the highly detailed work required to create an authentic period piece production, more than rose to the occasion.
“The actors and the whole production team are very passionate about the piece and the material,” she said. “We have a cracker-jack design team. They are all very used to setting productions in many period settings and styles. More essential is capturing the feel and tone of the production. Richard Schaefer has designed both the set and the lights, so he can keep them very connected in terms of design.”
Despite the unique setting and music, Thuman says the piece has more in common with classic opera than the audience may expect.
“It is for mature audiences who are adventurous and are interested in pushing their boundaries a bit,” Thuman said.
“It has never been done in Seattle, which surprises me. It has a very ‘fringe theatre’ feel to it at times, and yet it is with a passionate and professional musical theatre cast. I also think folks interested in opera would find it very compelling,” she said. “It has the same kind of extreme emotions, tragic characters and music story telling as opera, but set to jazz music with sexual content and some fabulous dancing.”
Tickets to “The Wild Party” are $20 and are available at the BPA online box office at www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org or by phone at 206-842-8569.