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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 23 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 34
Flapper fiesta - You really oughta go to Sound Theatre's wild party
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Flapper fiesta - You really oughta go to Sound Theatre's wild party

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

THE WILD PARTY
SOUND THEATRE COMPANY
Through August 25


Queenie was a blonde and her age stood still,
And she danced twice a day in vaudeville.
Grey eyes.
Lips like coals aglow.
Her face was a tinted mask of snow.
What hips_
What shoulders_
What a back she had!
Her legs were built to drive men mad.
And she did.


These words begin the story poem The Wild Party, by Joseph Moncure March, and they begin the Andrew Lippa musical, as well, that is being presented through this weekend by Sound Theatre Company. We're introduced to Queenie, played by Tori Spero like a tantalizing vixen with an anxious heart, and her 1920s group of decadent, heedless friends and lovers.

Queenie sings the opening song about herself and her relationship with Burrs (Troy Wageman). Their love burns brightly - and burns out long before the relationship ends. Wageman towers over Spero and tosses her around like so much garbage, demonstrating the brutality Burrs is capable of.

Queenie decides she needs to have a party so she can show Burrs up and somehow make him behave better toward her. The musical happily introduces her friends as they appear for the party: Eddie, the boxer (DeSean Halley), and his honey, Mae (McKenna Turner), Madelaine True (Leslie Wisdom), the Lesbian, and a slew of others, ready to drink themselves to oblivion and explore whatever sexual partnering becomes available.

Allison Standley enters as Kate, Queenie's friend, who wants Burrs for herself. The poem says she is 'about as healthy as a cobra's bite' and Standley embodies the lecherous and decadent lifestyle that has almost plowed Kate under. But Kate also brings a guy she has recently picked up, Mr. Black (Jesse Smith), who immediately locks eyes with Queenie. Given the tension in the room, it's clear that this development bodes no good.

AMBITIOUS PRODUCTION The Lippa musical is full of richly decorative music, just as the ingenious set and dark lighting by Richard Schaefer suggests a richly decorative life, albeit one that has frayed a good deal. The singers are often compelled to almost sing against the music rather than with it. While taking on this production is pretty amazing from a small company like Sound Theatre Company, they get about as much right as they possibly can.

Director Corey McDaniel manages a seamless flow throughout, allowing the tensions to build to a fever pitch. Jessica Low provides stellar choreography, and never choreographs above the actors' abilities to perform it, so they all look great doing it.

The cast is full of high-caliber musical theater class, and they don't shy away from embodying sexual energy. Indeed, some of the nonessential characters are so involved in sexual partnering that they pull focus from the main action at times. That might be a bit much.

Also, given that it's a tiny stage area, relative to what a musical needs, the musicians are placed behind the performers, and it can be very difficult for the performers to sync well with the band. With difficult music, it is hard for the audience to relax as the voices and music don't always mesh together.

Still, it's a ballsy production of a ballsy musical and these criticisms are small in comparison to what gets done well on stage. While it's not for children, it's definitely a fun ride, though you might want to get in the mood by throwing back a couple before the show. For more information, go to www.soundtheatrecompany.org or www.brownpapertickets.com/event/362552, or call 1-800-838-3006.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters.

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