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Having a ‘Wild Party’ with All in Productions

Jazz Age musical features colorful, complex characters

Sep. 6, 2016
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Photo by Mark Frohna

This month, All In Productions stages an energetic rendering of The Wild Party, Andrew Lippa’s musical adaptation of a 1928 narrative poem about an unstable New York soirée. Peyton Oseth and Mitch Weindorf play Queenie and Burrs, a loving couple in a dangerously erratic relationship. They host a party populated by a colorful group of friends. Weindorf bravely unearths an honest portrayal of reprehensible human flaws with an uneasy charisma. Oseth has an organic complexity in the role of a woman who knows that she’s with someone she shouldn’t be with. 

Director Robby McGhee juggles all of the many elements of a crazy Jazz Age get-together made for contemporary musical theater. Perhaps the single best aspect of the production is that it genuinely feels like an untamed party occurring in musical theater format. Emotions feel real and people seem authentic whether they’re in the center of the action or not. In the intimate studio space at the Next Act Theatre, the cast tumbles around in a playful kind of energy that occasionally drifts into the darker edge of things. At the center of that darkness rests Amber Smith in the role of Kate, an old friend with a past who arrives fashionably late with a dark stranger charmingly played by Ernest Bellafonte. Smith has a tremendously powerful personality that has a smolderingly explosive dynamic. Her performance of “The Life of the Party,” at the top of Act II, is one of the more memorable musical moments in the show. Also of note is the intensely appealing performance of “An Old-Fashioned Love Story” by a masterfully suave Liz Norton as party guest Madelaine.  

Through Sept. 17 at the Next Act Theatre, 255 S. Water St. For tickets, call 414-278-0765 or visit allin-mke.com

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