Going All in for 'The Wild Party'
Andrew Lippa’s off-Broadway musical comes to Next Act Theatre
The Wild Party began as a narrative poem from the Roaring Twenties by American author Joseph Moncure March. It’s fair to say that it scandalized readers of the era, unaccustomed as they were in that time to tales of sex, booze and violence written with such forthrightness. It took years for March to find a publisher. After a single follow-up poem (The Set-Up), March moved on to movie script and essay writing; meanwhile The Wild Party, widely banned in the U.S., lapsed into obscurity.
It wasn’t until the mid-’90s that The Wild Party was finally republished (in an illustrated, hard-cover edition), an event that breathed new life into the once lost Jazz Age classic. Two musical versions of it took to New York City stages by decade’s end—one of which was an off-Broadway production by British-born American composer, lyricist and writer Andrew Lippa. Lippa’s take on The Wild Party received its world premiere 16 years ago via the Manhattan Theater Club, going on to receive 13 Drama Desk Award nominations (winning for best music) and winning the Outer Critics Circle Award for best off-Broadway musical. It is Lippa’s musical version that All In Productions presents to us early next month.
With its setting of, well, a “wild party” thrown by lovers Queenie and Burrs (portrayed here by Peyton Oseth and Mitch Weindorf), The Wild Party delves into infidelity, lust, jealousy and potentially violent anger—discomforting emotions that we all tend to avoid if possible. But, somewhat ironically, life’s most unsettling situations so often are the strongest catalysts for emotional growth. “This is why I chose The Wild Party,” director Robby McGhee asserts, “not because it would be easy, but because we would learn something.”
All In Productions’ The Wild Party runs Sept. 2-17 at Next Act Theatre, 255 S. Water St. For tickets and further information, call 414-278-0765 or visit nextact.org.